News release from Fairness Alberta
POLL: VAST MAJORITY OF ONTARIANS SAY EQUALIZATION PAYMENTS ARE UNFAIR
Fairness Alberta calls for $8 billion rebate for Ontario
Fairness Alberta has released a poll showing 73% of Ontarians believe ever-growing Equalization payments are unfair given the narrowing wealth gap between provinces since 2015.
The poll, from a weighted survey of 1,000 Canadians recently conducted by the Toronto firm One Persuasion Inc. (MoE +/-3.1%), showed a large majority of Ontarians said it is unfair that Equalization payments rose 23% since 2015, making Ontario’s share of funding the program equivalent to roughly $2400 per family of four (see bottom). Opposition to the status quo on Equalization was highest in the 905 region of suburban Toronto.
(To see the full results of the poll click here)
“Ontarians have been funding unfairly high Equalization payments for others while their own provincial government was struggling to pay for services even before COVID-19,” said Fairness Alberta Executive Director Dr. Bill Bewick. “Given the collapse of the wealth gap between provinces, the so-called ‘have’ provinces should get the share of Equalization that came from their taxpayers rebated until we achieve meaningful reforms to federal-provincial funding.”
As Dr. Bewick outlined in the National Post, even a 50% rebate would mean a bump to provincial budgets of $4 billion in Ontario and $1.5 billion being returned to B.C. and Alberta as their provincial responsibilities come under strain.
“The $21 billion-and-growing price tag for Equalization is totally unnecessary and unaffordable given how much more equal provinces have become since 2015,” added Dr. Bewick. “This isn’t just an Alberta problem. Ontario, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland make up nearly 70% of Canada’s population and it has become obvious that the program is unfair to all of them.”
A recent study by Ben Eisen and Milagros Palacios illustrates the “Great Convergence” in provincial fortunes since the 2015 energy downturn. While the gap between the median ‘have’ and ‘have not’ fell from $5000 per person in 2015 to only $1600 in 2020, Equalization payments grew 23%. With increases tied to national GDP rather than need, a $20.9 billion windfall is going to 5 provinces (with less than 1/3 of the population) in 2021.
About Fairness Alberta:
Fairness Alberta is a grassroots, non-partisan, and non-separatist association of concerned citizens, aiming to increase awareness across the country about Albertans’ disproportionate contributions to Canada, while also providing clear, factual information on unfair federal policies that will further undermine the prosperity of Alberta and other contributing provinces.
Fairness Alberta previously released analysis and recommendations for reforms to Equalization and the Fiscal Stabilization program, with an overview of fiscal federalism as well at www.fairnessalberta.ca.
Previous releases, interviews, columns, and two 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.
Cell: (780) 996-6019
Email: [email protected]
*per-province calculations based on provincial contributions to general revenue proportionally applied to the $20.9b spent on Equalization in 2021. Source for per-province shares is this Library of Parliament document: https://lop.parl.ca/sites/
City of Calgary says it could cost millions to repair damage to municipal building
Calgary – City officials say it could cost more than two million dollars to repair the Calgary Municipal Building after someone broke in and set fires that triggered the sprinkler system earlier this month.
Carla Male, who’s the acting city manager, says in a news release that there’s extensive water damage on three floors of the building.
It includes the equipment on those floors and the building itself.
Male says it will be several months before the final bill is in, but the initial review shows it could cost between $1.3 and $2.2 million.
The tally includes the emergency response required to minimize the damage as well as the relocation of services and restoration of the building, furniture and equipment.
The city expects 80 per cent of the costs to be covered by insurance.
Alberta’s police watchdog continues to investigate the arrest of a man who’s accused of breaking into the building on Aug. 2.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has said that police tried to talk to the man, but were unsuccessful.
It says several officers fired non-lethal weapons and the man was arrested with the help of a dog team.
ASIRT says the man was transported to hospital after “sustaining significant injury” during that arrest.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2022.
Alliances shift to Danielle Smith in final days to sign up for UCP leadership vote
By Dean Bennett in Edmonton
Seven candidates scrambled Friday to sign up last-minute memberships in Alberta’s United Conservative Party leadership race while political observers say that without hard data on which contender has a leg up, follow the feet.
Danielle Smith, who started out with a handful of supporters in the United Conservative caucus and cabinet, has seen more in-house support in recent days, including some who had initially pledged to back rival Travis Toews.
“Sometimes when you see people starting to shift allegiances, it sort of gives you a sense of where the momentum is going,” political scientist Lori Williams, with Mount Royal University, said Friday in an interview.
“It’s those people who want to be in cabinet or in a position where they can work with whoever the new premier is. They think things are moving in that direction and they’re moving with them.”
Labour Minister Kaycee Madu was the latest convert, announcing his support for Smith at rally in Edmonton on Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, former cabinet minister Devin Dreeshen said he would support Smith. Earlier in the week, Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish switched his support from Toews to Smith.
Before that, Toews supporter Pat Rehn switched his support to Smith, joining fellow backbenchers Devinder Toor, Peter Guthrie and Nathan Neudorf.
Toews, who quit as finance minister to run in the contest, still has the lion’s share of support, with about two dozen cabinet and caucus members openly in his camp.
Political scientist Duane Bratt said even so, by any metric from crowd sizes to polling to the fact Smith is the focus of attacks by her opponents, she is clearly the one to beat as party members being voting next month, with results to be announced Oct. 6.
“She’s drawing the biggest crowds, we’ve got (MLA) endorsements that are now coming her way because they see her as the front-runner,” said Bratt, also with Mount Royal University.
“All the other candidates are responding to her in some fashion (and) some are adopting the same policies.
“I wonder after midnight, (when membership sales end) if there is some soul searching among the other candidates and whether they drop out or not.”
The party says hand-delivered-memberships were due by 5 p.m. Friday, with the cutoff for online memberships by midnight. These are to be the only memberships allowed to vote in the race.
Final count totals on memberships aren’t expected from the party for about two weeks.
Smith, a former Wildrose party leader, grabbed headlines out of the starting gate in the contest with her proposed Alberta sovereignty act. The act, as pitched by Smith, would seek to give Alberta the right to ignore federal laws and court rulings deemed not in its interest.
Legal scholars and most of the other candidates in the race have labelled it an outrageously inflammatory, bizarre and illegal scheme that would create a domino effect of economic and investment uncertainty bordering on chaos.
But Bratt noted the other two main contenders have excoriated Smith’s plan while adopting versions of it.
Toews has promised his government would seek to levy tariffs on goods and services or imports from specific regions to counter rules and policies deemed unfair to Alberta. Brian Jean has pledged to affirm that the Alberta Bill of Rights is paramount over Section 1 of the Constitution.
“It’s an attempt by the sovereignty act by a different name,” Bratt said.
Candidates Rajan Sawhney and Rebecca Schulz have been equally critical of Smith’s sovereignty act, but have in recent days adopted more combative policies when it comes to federal relations.
Schulz has promised a protecting provincial rights summit within two months of winning, while Sawhney is pledging to pursue go-it-alone initiatives such as a provincial pension plan and police force.
Both Bratt and Williams said Smith has done a better job capturing and harnessing latent anger within the party’s base when it comes to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government
And they note Alberta’s 4.5 million people could, come Oct. 6, be propelled in a new direction dictated by 40,000 or so UCP voters.
“To me, it looks like it’s only the really animated, diehard, engaged and largely angry folks that are driving the narrative right now,” said Williams.
“They’re angry and they want to see change not just provincially but federally, and they want someone who is going to fight.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2022.
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