Special Series: Fiscal Federalism in Canada – Author: Jackson Reggie – According to former senior federal public servant and academic Matthew Mendelsohn, equalization and other ﬁscal transfers are the “primary way we ensure that many of the social beneﬁts of Canadian citizenship are enjoyed by residents of all regions, including those that are less prosperous” (2013, p. 7). Payments from the federal government distributes revenue collected from “have provinces” to “have not provinces” to support the provision of public services at “reasonably comparable” levels between provinces (Flanagan, 2021; Dahlby, 2014).
Special Series: Fiscal Federalism in Canada – Author: Julien Doris – Since the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government has had to resort largely to its spending power to support the provinces and territories. In opening the first panel of the Conference on Fiscal Federalism, Gilbert Charland, Quebec’s Deputy Minister for Canadian Relations, highlighted two central issues for the future: the anticipated imbalance in health care spending (Conseil de la Fédération, 2021) and the updating of equalization parameters (The Globe and Mail, 2021). While discussing the constitutional elements and historical advancements of fiscal federalism, the following sections will also highlight some short- and longer-term economic issues.
Special Series: Fiscal Federalism in Canada – Author: Éric Desrochers – Opening session: Wednesday, April 21 (1:00 pm to 2:30 pm ET)
The opening session of the “Fiscal federalism in Canada” virtual conference was a panel of scholars and practitioners of fiscal federalism, featuring Louis Lévesque, Richard Bird, and Jim Dinning as panellists, and Madeleine Drohan as moderator. The panel centred on current issues in Canadian fiscal federalism and their interactions with the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as an introduction to two full days of discussions about fiscal federalism.
Author: K. Hunter – Canada and Australia have long faced scrutiny for human rights abuses against their Indigenous populations since colonization. Consequently, Indigenous communities continue to struggle with gaining recognition and respect of their rights as colonial structures persist in the present day. However, efforts in both these countries by their Indigenous populations seek to change the way these relationships are viewed and interpreted, amid calls for both constitutional reform and greater recognition of Indigenous rights.
Author: Emilie Tremblay – While there are over two dozen countries that can be considered federal states, these countries and the composition of their political systems vary greatly. The commonality they all share is that each has at least two orders of government, referred to here as the central and constituent governments, to which specific authorities and responsibilities are allocated by constitutional provision.
Author: Mark Friedman – In a landmark ruling, Canada’s Supreme Court upheld the federal government’s signature piece of climate change legislation as compatible with the country’s federalism framework. Three provincial governments challenged the law, arguing it unconstitutionally intruded into their legislative powers. The court’s decision offers important lessons for national governments elsewhere wrestling with how to address the international climate crisis while respecting the rights of subnational governments within their federations.
Author: Éric Desrochers – The regional autonomy of federations has added an extra layer of complexity to governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemic-era relations between Ottawa and the provinces have been more cooperative than in United States, but less institutionalized and more ad hoc than in some other federations. The Canadian response to the pandemic has thus been dominated by the usual pattern of executive federalism, making it unlikely that it will lead to major changes in this area.
Author: André Juneau – As Canada enters its third wave of COVID-19 infections, Andre Juneau draws on his own experience as a public servant in senior roles at intergovernmental affairs, health and immigration to consider what lessons have been learnt over the last year. The paper originally prepared as a scoping paper.