With the change of government in Alberta, one can only hope that our new premier will deal with a situation that the previous premier wouldn’t touch: federal equalization payments. For those who have learned and understood this federal program, it’s usually referred to as SAMEO (Some Are More Equal than Others), and, as the statistics will confirm, Alberta is not being treated fairly. I doubt any Albertan is surprised by this fact, but I think you might be surprised when you see just how unfair the numbers really are.
Let’s take 2017 as an example (the last year that data is available from Statistics Canada). In 2017, Alberta paid a total of $50.3 billion to Ottawa, but only received $28.5 billion back. In the same year, the Province of Quebec, which was already running a provincial surplus of $3 billion, nevertheless got a “bonus” from the federal program of $1.4 billion, for a total of $13.1 billion in transfers from other provinces.
Overall, only four provinces send more money to Ottawa than they get: Alberta, Ontario, B.C., and Saskatchewan. Not surprisingly, Alberta gets hit the hardest. The average federal contribution, paid by each resident of Alberta, amounts to $5,147 per person! Ontario’s payments are $1,179 per capita, B.C. contributes $1,162 per person and Saskatchewan pays out $323 per citizen. All the other provinces are takers and rarely ever contribute anything to the program.
In fact, the last time Alberta received a payment under this program was 54 years ago, in 1965 – and since the creation of this program, Alberta has received a measly total of 0.02% of all federal payments. Basically, by the time the Feds mailed the cheque, the cost of the stamp was greater than the value of all contributions received by the province in the history of the program! Quebec, on the other hand, has received payments for every year the program has existed, and has collected a grand total of $221 billion (most of it from Alberta) since this program was created. “Some are more equal than others” certainly describes the federal equalization program. Isn’t enough now enough? $221 billion stolen from Alberta – we can’t afford to continue to pay this ransom money.
Albertans are, by their very nature, extremely generous people, but this insanity has to stop. Alberta now has the highest unemployment rate in Canada, yet just last year, the Feds stole nearly $22 billion from our wonderful province, money that could have been desperately used in Alberta for those suffering in our economic doldrums. Instead, Albertans wither while Quebecers laugh at us and refuse to allow pipelines to cross their soil – pipelines that would so desperately help our suffering province. While I know his schedule is busy, our new premier needs to stand up for Alberta and be counted. He needs to tell the feds that the “gravy train days are over – starting right now!” We all realize that we have a prime minister who only cares for his home province of Quebec, but we should expect our new premier to defend Alberta, and Alberta desperately needs a defender right now. Mr. Premier, Albertans have been kicked in the teeth, and are on their knees. They need a hero to fight for them, since no one ever has. You are the logical selection, please don’t let us down.
Brian McLeod is a St. Albert resident.