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Alberta

Equalization payments aren’t just controversial in Alberta anymore! Ontario poll shows overwhelming negative view

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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.
Executive Director
Fairness Alberta
Cell: (780) 996-6019
Email: [email protected]fairnessalberta.ca


*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/PublicWebsite/default/en_CA/ResearchPublications/201701E

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Alberta

Alberta legislation would set up independent agency to investigate police complaints

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The Alberta government has introduced legislation aimed at making police forces more accountable and responsive to the communities they serve.

The Police Amendment Act introduced Thursday would establish an independent agency called the Police Review Commission to receive complaints, carry out investigations and conduct disciplinary hearings to do away with the idea of police investigating police.

Mike Ellis, the minister of public safety and emergency services, said the province has been consulting with Albertans since 2018 to come up with the first major overhaul of the Police Act in 34 years.

“One thing that came up consistently was the need to change how complaints against the police are investigated to end the system of police investigating police,” Ellis said.

“The legislation answers those long-lasting calls to reform the public complaints process by establishing an independent agency to handle complaints against police.”

The Alberta Serious Response Team will continue to handle all cases involving death or serious injuries, as well as serious and sensitive allegations involving all police services. Its mandate would be expanded to include peace officers employed by provincial organizations as well as community peace officers at the municipal level.

The legislation would also require all jurisdictions with a population above 15,000 currently policed by the RCMP to establish civilian bodies to oversee policing priorities.

The United Conservative Party government is deciding next steps following the release of a third-party analysis last year of a proposal to create a provincial police force instead of using the RCMP in rural areas and some smaller communities.

“No decisions have been made regarding the provincial police service,” Ellis said. “This is about ensuring that the rural municipalities have a say at the table under our current model which is the RCMP, who is the current provincial police service provider.”

Ellis said it could be another 18 months before the Police Review Commission is up and running. He said negotiations are underway with the RCMP to see how they would fit in under civilian oversight.

“Right now K-Division has expressed they’re supportive of this, however, we’re still having discussions with Public Safety Canada because it still falls technically under the RCMP in Ottawa,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to negotiate with the RCMP because we believe the independent body is the right approach and we can continue going down that path.”

The proposed changes would also require police to develop diversity and inclusion plans to reflect the diverse and distinct communities they serve and to better understand local community needs.

The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police supports the changes.

“Changes to update our Police Act are long overdue,” said Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld, president of the association in a statement.

“We have advocated for several years that the act needs reform to bring it more in line with the realities of the modern police workplace,”

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee said the changes “will provide an additional layer of public transparency” that will benefit both the public and police.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary

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Alberta

TC Energy shuts down Keystone pipeline system after leak in Nebraska

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CALGARY — TC Energy Corp. says it has shut down its Keystone pipeline after a leak in Nebraska.

The company says it has mobilized people and equipment in response to a confirmed release of oil into a creek, about 32 kilometres south of Steele City, Neb.

TC Energy says an emergency shutdown and response was initiated Wednesday night after a pressure drop in the system was detected.

It says the affected segment of the pipeline has been isolated and booms have been deployed to prevent the leaked oil from moving downstream.

The Keystone pipeline system stretches 4,324 kilometres and helps move Canadian and U.S. crude oil to markets around North America.

TC Energy says the system remains shutdown as its crews respond and work to contain and recover the oil.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)

The Canadian Press

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