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EDMONTON, AB, JUNE 7, 2020 – As the Alberta Legislature prepares to vote today on a motion setting the language for a province-wide referendum on Equalization, Fairness Alberta welcomed the opportunity to both elevate its importance as a federal issue, as well as draw attention to additional federal policies and programs that are unfair to Albertans.

“The Equalization program is deeply flawed and given how much more equal provinces have become since 2015 it is completely unfair for the program to keep growing and delivering windfalls to certain regions of the country,” said Fairness Alberta Executive Director Dr. Bill Bewick. “Albertans have paid a steep price for fiscal federalism; this referendum offers a chance to explain to Canadians why this unfairness to Albertans must stop – beginning with Equalization.”

Fairness Alberta recently published an Op-Ed in the Financial Post highlighting how this year’s federal budget allocates a record $20.9 billion to the Equalization program and how unfair it is to be hiking payments to so-called ‘have not’ provinces by 20% over the next four years – particularly as the fiscal capacity gap between median have and have-not provinces dropped from $5000 per person in 2015 to a negligible $1600 today.

That Op-Ed, as well as an earlier National Post column, also laid out why Fairness Alberta is calling on Canadians in British Columbia and Ontario – who will each pay roughly $2,400 per family of four this year into payments for other provincial governments – to join Albertans in demanding Equalization reform.

“Equalization fairness is not just an Alberta issue; 70% of Canadians pay but get nothing back,” said Bewick. “If we can get those in BC and Ontario to join us in demanding that Ottawa stop sending so much between provinces, then we have a real shot at improving fairness.”

Fairness Alberta used the most recent Library of Parliament breakdown of federal revenues by province to estimate the share of Equalization funding alone that comes from each province, and broke it down to a per capita / family of four basis. 

Alberta families are contributing about $2,700 to cover this year’s record Equalization payments, and Ontario and B.C. families are on the hook for about $2,400 each at a time when every provincial government is under tremendous strain.  While this is the bulk of the net contribution for the other two provinces, Equalization only accounts for about 15% of the roughly $20,000 per family net total that Albertans have been sending to the rest of Canada via Ottawa in recent years ($324 billion from 2000-2019).
 
Fairness Alberta is a grassroots, non-partisan, and non-separatist association of concerned citizens, aiming to increase awareness across the country related to Albertans’ major contributions to Canada, while also providing clear, factual information on unfair federal policies that are anticipated to undermine the prosperity of Alberta and other contributing provinces further.
 
Our previous releases, interviews, columns, and presentations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance can be found in the NEWS section of our website. For more information on Fairness Alberta, its mandate, and future plans, please visit our website at www.fairnessalberta.ca.
 
For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
 
Bill Bewick, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Fairness Alberta
Cell: (780) 996-6019
Email: bill.bewick@fairnessalberta.ca 
 
Background:
 
On Monday the Legislature will debate the following motion, which the government tabled Thursday.
 
Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly determine, pursuant to section 3 of the Referendum Act, the following as the question to be put to electors at a referendum and to which the response from an elector who votes in that referendum must be either “yes” or “no”:
 
Should section 36(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 — Parliament and the government of Canada’s commitment to the principle of making equalization payments — be removed from the constitution?
 

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