The government of Newfoundland and Labrador plans to apply for federal money through a program designed to help provinces struck by a sudden, steep drop in revenues.
Newfoundland government spokeswoman Jennifer Tulk says the province will apply under the fiscal stabilization program this spring when it releases its projected revenues for 2015-16.
The province could be eligible for a maximum of about $32 million under the plan, because payments are capped at $60 for every provincial resident — an amount set in the late 1980s.
Alberta is expected to request as much as $250 million through Ottawa’s little-known program — and federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said the Prairie province could meet the eligibility requirements.
The public treasuries in Alberta, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan have all sustained financial blows from the steep drop in commodity prices.
Provinces can make claims under the program when economic shifts cause their revenues to fall by more than five per cent from one year to the next. Declines in resource revenues above 50 per cent are also accounted for.
“The program, the stabilization fund, has some explicit criteria to it and if they meet the criteria, then they would apply to us,” Morneau said Tuesday in Ottawa, when asked whether Newfoundland and Saskatchewan might also be eligible.
“And I can’t determine yet whether they meet the criteria.”
Last week, Saskatchewan Finance Minister Kevin Doherty told The Canadian Press his province doesn’t quite meet the criteria to receive cash through the fiscal stabilization program.
At least not yet.
Doherty suggested the formula behind fiscal stabilization could be ready for an update because of the severity of the resource-related shock in several provinces.
On Tuesday, Liberal cabinet minister Ralph Goodale, a Saskatchewan MP, was asked whether his province might receive federal help through the fiscal stabilization fund and other measures.
“Saskatchewan’s very much part of this consideration,” Goodale said without specifying whether he was referring directly to fiscal stabilization.
“And the government has been very actively engaged with the provinces particularly affected, like Alberta and Saskatchewan, to work out the kinds of measures that will provide the appropriate degree of relief and support here in terms of the immediate dislocation of employment, the more medium-term challenges and opportunities in relation to infrastructure.”