Today, members of the Buffalo Project welcomed the Alberta Government’s introduction of the province-wide fall referendum question on removing the equalization program from the Canadian constitution.
Together with seven concerned citizen groups and over 60 high profile individuals from Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Buffalo Project called for this referendum question as the first urgent action to accelerate a new deal for western provinces in their “Urgent Request For Action To Our Leaders” letter on July 14, 2020.
The question, which will be presented to Alberta voters on October 18, in conjunction with municipal and senate elections, is proposed as follows:
“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?”
“Albertans will have an important moment to make their voice heard this fall,” said Dallas Howe, Chair of the Buffalo Project Advisory Board. “It’s our opportunity to assert our interests within the federation and force the federal government to negotiate a more sensible system of federal transfers.”
“I urge every Albertan to get out to the polls this fall and vote YES.”
Canada’s equalization program is set to swell to $20.9 billion in 2021, with every Alberta family on the hook for $2,700 just to cover that program.
When all transfers are tabulated, Albertans have contributed a net $318,000 per family of four to subsidize programs and services in other provinces since the year 2000. That adds up to a staggering $324 billion net contribution (more than Albertans received) to the rest of Canada.
“Albertans have done their part during times of prosperity to support other Canadians,” Howe said. “But the last 5 years have delivered economic pain to Western Canadians while facing significant economic roadblocks from the federal government and still receiving $0 from this flawed program – that needs to change.”
This year, the province of Quebec is set to receive more than $13 billion in equalization, which is enough to balance Alberta’s budget by the year 2022. While Quebec has received $497 billion from the country in net fiscal transfers since 1960, Alberta has given $630 billion back to the country in that same time period.
“We know that the equalization program hasn’t been there to support Western Canadians when we needed it most, all while continuously delivering record high transfers to provinces like Quebec,” Howe said. “For that reason, the program must be fixed, or else it should be scrapped completely. I urge Albertans to send the federal government a message this fall by voting YES to remove equalization from the Canadian constitution.”
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