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Part One: Former Alberta Treasurer Jim Dinning to speak on managing oil & gas wealth

One benefit of this region’s growing offshore oil and gas industry is a potentially significant increase in resource-based government revenues. Yet such wealth has proven a mixed blessing for many places that have not learned – or learned too late – how to manage it. In this luncheon talk on 7 March 2002, Alberta’s former Provincial Treasurer, Jim Dinning, will share with us Alberta’s hard-earned experience in what to do, and not do, in managing oil and gas wealth.

Mr. Dinning is the Executive Vice President, Sustainable Development & External Relations, for TransAlta, Canada’s largest non-regulated electric generation and marketing company. Prior to joining TransAlta in August 1997, Mr. Dinning held several key positions during his 11 years as a member of the legislature. As Provincial Treasurer, Mr. Dinning masterminded Alberta’s use of natural resource revenues to pay down the provincial debt. He also had responsibility for the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund.

Only a few spots left for this important event. For further information, or to register securely on-line, go to:

Part Two: New AIMS Oil & Gas Paper: “Having Our Gas and Selling it Too”

The third paper in our Oil and Gas Series underlines that while natural gas markets in other jurisdictions across Canada and the continent are quite mature, here in Atlantic Canada natural gas has a virtually zero market share. Thus, blindly copying regulatory and policy frameworks from elsewhere is not the wisest approach. The report’s author, Dr. Tom L. Tucker, tackles some of the most common attitudes and misconceptions towards this new industry, placing them under the policy microscope and subjecting them to the light of experience. Dr. Tucker then clearly illustrates that in order to realize the full market value of the gas for its owners (the public) and bring the greatest benefits to the region, the distribution industry must be deregulated.

A more stringent regulatory regime may be necessary once the industry reaches critical mass in the region, and Dr. Tucker makes some innovative suggestions as to a regulatory regime that would keep service quality high while squeezing out excess profits. In addition, the author debunks a long series of commonly held beliefs about natural gas, such as that people in the region would ultimately benefit from artificially low gas prices.


Part Three: In Sweden, employees are taking over health care

In AIMS fifth commentary on Swedish Health Care in Transition, author Johan Hjertqvist discusses the surge of employee ownership in Sweden’s health system. This new model is being adopted by some private sector health care providers as part of the logical evolution in the delivery structure for medical services – moving from the traditional public monopoly to diversity of producers. Citing stories such as a youth psychiatry unit in Stockholm, Hjertqvist explores the transformation of health care providers from an unfocused bureaucracy to a highly motivated entrepreneurial culture where employees have a greater share in the clinic’s success.

Swedish Health Care in Transition is a joint project of AIMS and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Part Four: Government handouts in Newfoundland – The truth behind the rhetoric

Ottawa Citizen writer Bruce Ward recently described the final episode of the Random Passage series as “The struggle of Irish immigrants in Newfoundland before the invention of government handouts.” Needless to say, this comment elicited a storm of negative responses from Newfoundlanders. In this reply piece, again in the Ottawa Citizen, Peter Fenwick, AIMS’ regular contributor from Newfoundland and Labrador and former Director of Communications at the Institute, takes the Newfoundland government to task for perpetuating the negative stereotype that Ward was repeating. Fenwick argues that Newfoundlanders are struggling to reduce their dependence but their provincial government undoes much of their hard work in the eyes of the rest of the country with make-work projects and other policies little suited to a modern economy.


Part Five: Health Care: competition and the single payer

Provinces now pay over 85 per cent of the cost of increasingly costly public health care. This burden is inevitably driving governments to adopt an attitude of ever-greater neutrality between public and private suppliers of health care within our single-payer system. In this column, AIMS President, Brian Lee Crowley, explains the benefits to be gained when provincial governments act as independent purchasers of health care services on behalf of their citizens. Governments will soon buy health services wherever they can get the best quality and best access at the lowest price. Neither public nor private providers will get preferential treatment, and the general public will get better quality, more accessible health care because of it.


Part Six: Equalization’s good intentions are not enough

In the November/December 2001 edition of The Taxpayer Magazine, Brian Lee Crowley, AIMS President, returns to the theme of the serious design flaws in equalization. He emphasizes that after 44 years and close to $200 billion in equalization spending, the Atlantic provinces are only barely more able to meet the needs of their citizens with their own revenue sources than they were when equalization was introduced in 1957. In addition, the incentives attached to equalization can penalize the poorer provinces for developing their economy and encourage them to settle for permanent reliance on federal transfers. The article then outlines two positive suggestions on what can be done to break this provincial “welfare trap”.


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