OTTAWA, Ont. — Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin is telling Atlantic Canada’s Liberal MPs he is prepared to pour as much as $4 billion into boosting the region’s economy over the next decade.
A Liberal source says Martin floated the idea – and the cost to do so – at the party’s national caucus meeting last month as an alternative to a hefty hike in federal transfer payments to the provinces.
According to Department of Finance numbers, the 10-year, $4-billion figure would reflect Atlantic Canada’s share if the federal government agreed with the provinces’ proposal for enhancing the equalization program that spreads federal tax dollars out among the country’s less affluent regions.
Martin says if the response to enhanced equalization is “No” he will be receptive to looking at another channel to direct a similar amount of money through.
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