Mr. Speaker, the federal government has shown great leadership in bringing forward a new deal on equalization.
The provinces told us they wanted more stability in their payments and we listened. For this year we have guaranteed stability by ensuring that no province will receive less in equalization payments than was estimated at the time of the last federal budget.
The provinces told us they were concerned about the overall funding of equalization. This deal offers a floor of $10.9 billion by 2005-06, the highest level ever reached by the program. That amount will grow by 3.5% a year.
It is clear to see the deal announced by the Prime Minister on Tuesday will be instrumental in helping the equalization program to fulfill its constitutional obligation, ensuring that all Canadians, no matter which province they call home, can have access to high quality public services.