(Ottawa) Could provinces receive a double share of their health transfer? A supplement of 2 billion that the government wanted to pay quickly is found in two different bills and the Bloc Québécois wants to take the opportunity to double the bet.
Bill C-46 was recently fast-tracked by the House of Commons and is currently under consideration in the Senate. In addition to the $2 billion health supplement, it contained the necessary changes to continue doubling the GST tax credit. The $2.5 billion measure was introduced as “a new grocery rebate” in the last federal budget.
The error was first pointed out by Bloc Québécois finance critic Gabriel Ste-Marie. “We said to ourselves, does the government recognize that there is a lack of money for health and are they giving an additional 2 billion or are they so into the potatoes,” he said in an interview.
The government denies making a mistake. It was intended that these measures be in the two bills, replied the Liberal MP, Kevin Lamoureux. “It’s because we couldn’t get Bill C-46 passed quickly in the House,” he said.
“These two measures have been included in both bills in order to receive royal assent as soon as possible, which will allow this support to be provided as soon as possible,” said the press secretary of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday.
These explanations do not satisfy Gabriel Ste-Marie since Bill C-47 was tabled the day after the adoption of C-46 in the Commons without the redundancies being removed.
“The intention is not to allocate the sum of 2 billion dollars twice,” clarified an official from the Department of Finance when the Bloc MP questioned him in parliamentary committee last week. “I believe the government will come back with guidance on how to move forward with the coordination of the two bills, in this circumstance,” he added.
However, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Yves Giroux, admitted on Tuesday that there is “a risk of double counting”, particularly for the health transfer.
Passing both bills through Parliament would empower Minister Freeland, “to provide $4 billion to all or some provinces.”
“The minister would have the power to give that if she wishes,” he said during his testimony to the Senate Finance Committee. He then offered a solution: remove the duplicate measures from Bill C-47 to avoid this kind of situation.
This was suggested by Kevin Lamoureux, Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, to Gabriel Ste-Marie. “I even encourage him to move the amendment so that the correction can then be made at committee stage,” he told her when the issue was raised on April 21.
For the Bloc Québécois, that is out of the question. “We are not in favor of that, decided Gabriel Ste-Marie. We find that even with these two billion more, there will still be a shortage of funds for health. Ottawa is not doing its part. »
He challenges the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Jagmeet Singh, to reject a possible amendment submitted by the Liberals to fix Bill C-47.
“I can’t wait to see the NDP. We saw Jagmeet Singh some time ago who said that there is a lack of money for health […], this is a great opportunity to say it is true that there is not enough for health. health, at least let’s add that 2 billion. »
Quebec’s share would be $447 million.