Canadian News Jun 18, 2020 2:19 PM EST

Kenney to hold referendum on Alberta's equalization payments

A referendum on equalization in 2021 will happen as part of Alberta's Fair Deal Panel's recommendations, said the province's Premier Kenney.

Kenney to hold referendum on Alberta's equalization payments
Quinn Patrick Montreal, QC
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A referendum on equalization in 2021 will happen as part of Alberta's Fair Deal Panel's recommendations, said the province's Premier Jason Kenney. The recommendations also include the possibility of a new provincial police force, according to the Edmonton Sun.

“Albertans understand that equalization is fundamentally unfair. Albertans are proud to contribute to their fellow Canadians when times are good here but bad elsewhere,” said Kenney on Wednesday.

The Fair Deal Panel made a total of 25 recommendations that the province has tabled in the legislative assembly, among them is also the idea of pulling out of the Canada Pension Plan.

Kenney said that that the energy sector and Alberta in particular has been hit with bad policies imposed by Ottawa, saying that most Albertans understand that equalization is "fundamentally unfair."

“The report and recommendations of the Fair Deal Panel are not a cry for help, they’re a demand for fairness. Failure to get a fair deal for Alberta is not an option,” said Kenney.

A referendum on equalization was part of Kenney's 2019 election campaign however the panel's report stated that a referendum in Alberta would be non-binding. Any changes would have to be approved by the House of Commons, the Senate, and the majority of the provincial legislative assemblies. There would also be other consequences as a result as well, both legal and political.

“What Albertans cannot and will not accept is governments across the country benefiting from that wealth and our resources while seeking to block and impair our development of that wealth and those resources by killing pipelines, by opposing them through policies that hammer our largest industry,” said Kenney.

Independent polling was conducted throughout the province regarding the ideas and Kenney claims that the support for them is "significant." Their finance department is looking into the costs and benefits of having their own Alberta Pension Plan.

The report showed that the contribution rate would be much lower if Alberta were to create their own pension plan. Currently, they pay 9.9 percent but that could be dropped to 5.85 percent if they had their own, which would save the province $3 billion annually that they have to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan.

Alberta also spends $262.4 million on RCMP service every year and the federal government pays $112.4 million. The report says that the province or municipalities would have to make up for the federal money however they believe that Albertan communities would benefit in the long run from having their own provincial police force. Under that system they could launch their own initiatives to fight crime and not have to always wait for approval from Ottawa.

“The panel also wishes to make clear its conviction — a conviction we believe a majority of Albertans share — that the best option is to achieve a fairer deal for Albertans, and for all Canadians, within Confederation,” read the report which also warned against the province using separation from Canada as a negotiation strategy, calling it unconstructive.

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