For decades, Albertans have watched as their hard-earned tax dollars were sent to Ottawa and redistributed among other provinces under a system of equalization that has siphoned wealth from our job creators and our provincial treasury.
I am pleased to share during this year’s municipal and senate elections, there will be a referendum question on removing equalization payments from the constitution. The question facing Albertans in the referendum will be: “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?” Referendums are a chance for citizens to directly vote on issues the government has brought forward, and that they think needs direct citizen input. Quebec’s ability to monopolize the national spotlight and command attention from Ottawa after they held contentious referendums in 1980 and 1995 has demonstrated what can be achieved when people, not politicians, are given the power to decide their future.
Equalization is fundamentally unfair to Alberta and has pulled billions of dollars out of our province – even during times of economic recession. That is why our United Conservative government ran on a platform that promised to fight for a fair deal for Alberta and hold a referendum on equalization payments. This promise was listed in our top three priorities and over one million Albertans elected our government to get it done.
Albertans fund equalization payments through federal tax contributions, which are then transferred by Ottawa to other provinces for their programs and services. While this system may be generous towards less competitive jurisdictions, it fails to consider fundamental matters of fairness, including the ability of “have provinces” – like Alberta – to contribute transfers, even when their provincial economies are down.
Between 2014 and 2019, Albertans made a net contribution of more than $100 billion to the federal government through transfers to the rest of Canada. And over the last 25 years, Albertans contributed more than $400 billion. And while Albertans are paying into equalization, our province is receiving nothing in return. Among the most toxic aspects of equalization payments is the same provinces who benefit from it, also elect NDP and Liberal politicians who block our pipelines and advocate against Alberta’s energy projects.
Quebec takes the lion’s share of equalization payments, during the fiscal year 2021-22 Quebec received $13 billion out of a total $20.9 billion in equalization payments. Quebec is the same province that blocked the Energy East Pipeline, which would not only enable Alberta’s oil exports to be transferred across Canada safely – but also would have created jobs in Quebec and grown their economy.
To me, that just doesn’t seem fair.
Albertans are tired of Ottawa emptying their pockets and pushing them aside, it is time we stand up and do something about it. I encourage everyone to vote during the next municipal and senate election in the fall for the removal of equalization payments from our constitution. This is your chance for Ottawa to hear loud and clear Albertans are fed up with this unfair redistribution of their money.