No Pharmacare Takeover!

As you may have heard, Alberta has announced it will opt out of participating in the federal government's proposed national pharmacare plan.

The massively expensive proposal was, of course, the centerpiece of the 2021 Confidence and Supply Agreement between the Liberal and NDP parties currently sharing power in Parliament.

The Alberta government calls the plan “a hastily arranged, politically motivated program that the Liberal government has agreed to, in an attempt to hold together their confidence and supply agreements with the NDP to avoid an election.”

And, effectively, it amounts to a federal government takeover of yet another aspect of provincial jurisdiction.

Which, naturally, means Alberta is going to pay.


Alberta Premier Danielle Smith explained this well when she was campaigning for the leadership of the United Conservative Party in the summer of 2022.

“We always lose when we go up against Ottawa… They take all of our money and they dribble it back with conditions, they steal the rest and they use it to buy votes in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.”

Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said on Monday that Alberta will opt out and ask for per-capita funding instead.

But even an equal per-capita grant will leave Alberta worse off.

In most policy areas, Alberta pays a disproportionately larger amount than our fair per-capita share into the federal pot and takes a disproportionately smaller amount out of the pot.

But even if we manage to negotiate to get a fair per-capita amount out of the pot on this pharmacare deal, we'll still be paying a disproportionate amount in.

Once again, the federal government will be taking more out of Albertans' pockets in taxes than comes back in program funding, for a program that isn't even federal jurisdiction to begin with.

The other issue with federal takeovers of programs is that one-size-fits-all policy approaches from Ottawa just don't work.

Take childcare, for example.

In a much-lauded move in 2021, the federal government began the process of nationalizing Canada’s childcare program.

They offered provinces money to help cover the costs of this supposedly provincial jurisdiction, but this money came with strings attached - conditions that had to be complied with, targets that had to be met, and rules that had to be followed.

Now, just a few short years later, it’s becoming an unmitigated disaster.

A government-imposed revenue cap on childcare operators has led to a full-blown crisis in the space, as operators scramble to deal with rising costs in an inflationary environment.

“While the government emphasizes that childcare centres have the option to participate in the program or not, the reality for many operators is a stark choice between immediate bankruptcy by not signing in or a slower path to financial ruin by participating,” said one Alberta childcare operator.


And these issues aren't just confined to Alberta (as some have claimed, in an attempt to blame the Alberta government).

Ontario’s largest childcare provider, the YMCA, is reporting that daycares across the province are at risk of closing unless compensation is fixed, while the Province's budget watchdog projects a shortfall of over 220,000 spaces due to exceeding demand.

In British Columbia, reports of daycare shortages have become commonplace, while the federal government is ignoring the fact that New Brunswick isn't meeting its targets.

Similar problems have arisen in Newfoundland and Labrador too.

The result is a national crisis in childcare caused by the effective nationalization of childcare.

The federal government needs to stay in its lane.

And Alberta shouldn’t be allowing Ottawa to interfere in any provincial jurisdiction with these conditional funding agreements that limit our ability to provide essential services to our population.

But, if other provinces do want to go ahead, we must at least make sure Alberta gets back every dollar we pay in, not just a per-capita grant.

If other provinces want to hand power over to Ottawa, that's their problem, and they can pay for it themselves.

(And, while we're at it, we should revisit Ottawa's childcare deal too.)

If you appreciate our work highlighting the problems with these types of federal government interference in Alberta's jurisdiction and want to help us keep up the good fight, please consider making a donation today:



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The Free Alberta Strategy Team

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  • Free Alberta Strategy
    published this page in News 2024-03-03 21:55:17 -0700