GUNTER: Alberta continues to get the short end of the stick when it comes to equalization
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Albertans have paid $324 billion more in taxes to the federal government than they or the province government have received back in transfers, grants, equalization, fiscal stabilization, pensions or other payments.
That’s an average imbalance of $15 billion a year, according to Fairness Alberta, a group formed to fight for reform of Canada’s one-sided, one-way equalization scheme.
If you still doubt how overburdened Alberta is, consider this: The other two, large “have” provinces – Ontario and B.C. – have between them contributed $69 billion over the same period.
In other words, of the $393 billion paid into Confederation by the Big Three provinces, 82 per cent has come from Alberta.
Now here’s the clincher for me. Of the $393 billion contributed by “have” provinces, $171 billion (nearly 44 per cent) has gone to Quebec.
Next time you hear a Quebec politician or federal Liberal boast about Quebec’s superior social programs – inexpensive day care, cheap post-secondary tuition, length maternity and paternity benefits, and so on – remember that is only possible because of the scads of money being drained from Alberta, Ontario and B.C. and pumped into Quebec by Ottawa.
What makes all this worse is that “have-not” provinces — the recipients of more than $21 billion a year — are all far richer now than when the program began.
When equalization began nearly 60 years ago, the average income in have-nots was less than 70 per cent of the national average. Today it is just under 95 per cent.
According to Fairness Alberta, the gap has closed fastest in the last five years. In 2015, Fairness explains, per capita income in have-nots was $5,000 a year less than in haves. Now the gap is just $1,600.
And what does Alberta get for all this support for the rest of the country? The gratitude and admiration of our fellow Canadians? A big thank you from Ottawa and unquestioned support for our energy industry?