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December 10, 2018

Flawed equalization formula fails Alberta again

Alberta’s United Conservatives today once again expressed concern about the current status of Canada’s equalization formula.

“Albertans are proud to be able to share their prosperity when times are good here but not elsewhere,” said UCP finance critic Drew Barnes. “But, it is also fair for them to expect that Canadians will do the same for Alberta when times are tougher.”

Last year, Alberta’s NDP government defeated a United Conservative motion in the Legislature that called on the province to begin preparation for equalization renegotiations. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the NDP government knew that the federal Liberal government would renew the existing formula, but stayed silent for over a month.

“After Justin Trudeau rammed his equalization plan through parliament last June, without a word of objection from Alberta’s NDP government, it is clear that he does not intend to address this imbalance, that will see Quebec receive an additional 1.4 billion dollars in equalization funding this year,” added Barnes.

Quebec is projected to continue to receive more than half of the total of equalization through 2019-2020, and are projected to run successive surplus budgets. This is in stark contrast to Alberta which is currently facing nearly 160,000 unemployed Albertans, record debt projected to reach 100 billion dollars, and continued multi-billion dollar deficits.

“As Canada’s finance ministers meet, they must immediately address the deeply flawed system that continues to subsidize Quebec at the expense of Albertans, who are facing a time of real economic challenge and unemployment,” said Barnes. “Since equalization was created, Alberta has received 0.02% of all payments, the last of which was in 1964-1965. In contrast, Quebec has received equalization money every year of the program, totaling 221 billion dollars, or 51 per cent of all payments.”

“In addition to the obvious issues with the equalization formula, this meeting of finance ministers should also be a time to recognize that the challenging economic climate in Alberta is only made worse by the continued tax increases by our provincial and federal governments. Alberta should make clear that it will scrap its job-killing carbon tax, and expects the federal government to end it’s threats to make a bad situation worse through the imposition of a federal carbon tax on Alberta’s struggling energy sector.”

United Conservative leader Jason Kenney has previously said that if elected Premier, he is prepared to hold a referendum on equalization to force the federal government into binding negotiations so that Alberta can get a fair deal.