Flaherty exits boldly from one fine mess

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty boldly went Monday where no finance minister has ever gone before when it comes to the billions upon billions Ottawa transfers every year to the provinces for health and social services.

He told the provinces they would continue to get the billions upon billions from the federal treasury and — here comes the bold bit — told them they could spend it however they saw fit.

Imagine that: A federal government program with no strings attached.

Still, provincial finance ministers are a tough act to please. Take,  for example, Stan Struthers, the finance minister in Manitoba:

In today’s papers, I write:

“…despite the carping from the country’s eastern Canadian finance ministers, Flaherty has given them more than adequate warning of new funding arrangements that will be offered on still generous terms.

Nonetheless, the effect of this new deal, as B.C. finance minister Kevin Falcon immediately divined, is to force each province to figure out how to spend its health dollars more wisely.”

[Read the whole column Flaherty exits boldly from one fine mess].

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