Kenney ‘profoundly disappointed’ in federal transfers for Alberta

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta’s premier is “profoundly disappointed” in the amount of money the province will receive through federal transfer payments next year.

Jason Kenney made the statement in a news release in response to a letter from Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Thursday containing details on the funding the province will receive for 2021-2022.

Alberta will receive over $6.8 billion in health and social transfers according to Freeland — an increase of $217 million from this year.

Under the current formula Alberta does not qualify for an equalization payment.

Read more: Could Alberta actually fall into have-not status? New report shows it is a possibility

In a statement Thursday Premier Jason Kenney said his government’s “simple request for a fair share of what Alberta generated and sent to Ottawa, is being ignored.”

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He said in the last 10 years alone, Alberta has contributed more than $200 billion despite unprecedented economic challenges in the last five.

“Alberta has experienced a period of prolonged economic stagnation and decline, made worse by hostile policies from the federal government,” Kenney said. “In fact, since the election of the federal Liberal government in Ottawa, Canada has lost out on almost $200 billion of energy investment, the lion’s share of which would be in Alberta.”

Jason Kenney reiterated his government’s plan to hold a referendum during next October’s municipal elections to “scrap equalization from the Constitution.”

Read more: Alberta premier promises referendum on equalization reform

The only provinces getting equalization payments in 2021-22 are Manitoba, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador which does not qualify. Equalization payments total $20.9 billion, with Quebec receiving most of it at $13.1 billion.

In total Ottawa is providing a record $83.9 billion in transfer funding to the provinces and territories, an increase of over $2.2 billion dollars.

In the letter, Freeland listed the federal support this year for the Canadian economy including $322 billion in direct measures to fight COVID-19, and provide financial help to Canadians. She referenced the Safe Restart Agreement, Safe Return to Class Fund, and other measures with which $24 billion in direct support has been made available to provinces and territories.

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