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November 29, 2016

NDP block Wildrose motion to study and renegotiate equalization

Last night, members of the NDP government blocked a motion from Wildrose Leader Brian Jean urging the Alberta government to form a position for renegotiating equalization.

The motion asked the government to complete and make public its own report by August 31 next year outlining the improvements the government will seek on behalf of all Albertans when the program is renegotiated. It was unanimously voted down by NDP MLAs.

“The NDP government has missed a real opportunity show they are willing to stand on the side of Albertans who are frustrated by the current equalization system,” Jean said. “Albertans expect a government that will fight for their interests and not bend to Ottawa’s will. Albertans pay over $20 billion on average every year to Ottawa that they don’t get back in transfers or services. They deserve a better deal.”

The current equalization system is set to expire in 2019. In previous years, the Quebec government took time to study and present its views on the current equalization formula in advance of negotiation rounds.

Earlier this fall, an independent panel of experts delivered the Equalization Fairness Panel report commissioned by the Wildrose caucus. The report found that between 2007 and 2014, Albertans sent $190 billion more in taxes and other payments to Ottawa than they received back in transfers or services.

“Alberta should be working now to start a national conversation on fixing equalization and other imbalances,” Jean said. “We have partners in Saskatchewan who want to have this conversation nationally. It’s sad the NDP would rather maintain the status quo.”