Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member looked a little closer at the proposals on equalization, he would find that there is some redress to the concern that he expressed.
The first point I want to make on equalization is that it is not a panacea for everything. Equalization simply is an averaging of fiscal capacities among the provinces. It tries to reduce those disparities. As I said, there is something in the order of 33 tax sources that are considered in the formula so that there is a recognition of that across the country.
Every province has a unique interest. Some very bizarre anomalies occasionally are kicked up. The hon. member actually raised one of them, which was the way in which resources are treated and worked into the formula. I think the hon. member will recollect that the Minister of Finance, who is obviously from Saskatchewan and is very seized with this issue, did make an announcement of a one time cash payment to Saskatchewan which would address specifically the anomaly that the formula brought up for Saskatchewan.
The hon. member said we should change the formula. That is easier said than done. There is virtually a continuous meeting between federal officials and provincial officials on how the formula applies.
The big objection here is that Ontario had a lousy year last year. Because Ontario had a lousy year, the provinces that receive equalization came far closer to Ontario's fiscal capacity. That is the way the formula works. When the chief contributor to fiscal capacity in this country has a bad year, it reflects on the rest of the provinces as well.
A couple of years ago we did not hear these complaints when Ontario had a really good year. There was a $2 billion bonus that the provincial finance ministers were not counting on which came in the year 2000.
The formula goes up and the formula goes down. Unfortunately, we had a lousy year and the formula did not work as well as many other ministers had anticipated.