Premiers to talk tax changes with Morneau

Finance Minister Bill Morneau to talk tax reforms at first ministers’ meeting

The Liberal government has been fielding a lot of complaints about controversial proposed tax reforms — and now the premiers are poised for their turn as they gather in Ottawa to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The provincial and territorial leaders will get a chance Tuesday to hear Finance Minister Bill Morneau discuss his proposals to eliminate small business tax provisions the Liberals believe allow some wealthier Canadians to avoid paying their fair share.

The suggested changes have led to an outcry from doctors, farmers, small business owners and even some premiers who fear the effect they would have on their provincial economies.

Related: ‘Red flag’ raised over federal tax reform

The premiers will also meet MP Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, to discuss the role they will play in regulating the coming legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

Some of the provinces have been expressing their concern about the tight timeline for legalizing pot.

Asked about that issue Monday, Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette could not avoid slamming the federal government over its handling of the legalization of cannabis.

He said he is not surprised the provinces have set different age limits for its use.

“We know that the federal government sent us the problem and we have to handle the risks that go with it,” he said in Montreal.

Related: Finance minister expects tax reform changes from feds

Barrette said it’s normal for the provinces to have differences, adding that Quebec doesn’t have any real concerns.

He pointed out that there are different age restrictions on alcohol use among the provinces.

“You know that, for alcohol, it’s not 18 everywhere for example, there are provinces that have 19, there are provinces that have 18 and there already have been provinces with more than that,” Barrette said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador in Washington, will give the premiers an update on the relationship with the U.S. following the third round of negotiations for the new North American Free Trade Agreement.

The premiers will also hear from Anil Arora, the head of Statistics Canada, and Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada.

The Canadian Press