EDMONTON, AB (June 7, 2013): Premier Alison Redford’s satisfaction with the current federal equalization formula that shortchanges Albertans roughly $19 billion a year is a clear indication that she won’t fight for Alberta’s interests when the formula is renegotiated next year, Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said.
Speaking to the CBC in New Brunswick today, Redford endorsed the current equalization formula, crediting it for helping Saskatchewan’s economic recovery and saying, “It would be wrong to respond to that as somehow something that needs to be corrected in such a simplistic way.” Smith has long been calling for an overhaul of the equalization formula, arguing that equalization actually allows have-not provinces to deliver better government services for their residents at the expense of taxpayers in have provinces. “Albertans need a champion of their interests at the equalization negotiation table in 2014 and Premier Redford has indicated today that she’s perfectly willing to sell those interests out,” Smith said. “I am profoundly disappointed that the Premier of Alberta would argue to maintain the status quo in equalization when it so clearly gives Alberta taxpayers a raw deal and ultimately leads to other provinces becoming dependent on transfers.” Smith also blasted Redford for stating her support for equalization while traveling in a province that receives payments from Alberta. “I challenge her to say the same thing in Alberta,” Smith said. “If she’s so adamant that the equalization formula is working for Alberta, she should have the guts to say so when she’s home. The fact is Albertans know better. They want a fair deal and this Premier doesn’t appear as though she will fight for one.” Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson said Redford’s comments don’t befit her office. “The current formula enables Quebec to subsidize everything from child care to tuition for their residents with Albertans’ tax dollars without having to get their own books in order while Premier Redford is running consecutive multi-billion dollar deficits and cutting front line services and programs at home because of our own government’s inability to prioritize,” Anderson said. “The Premier thinks this is working? Equalization has become nothing more than a welfare program at Alberta’s expense for bad government policy and it needs to be changed immediately.” The Wildrose Financial Recovery Plan, released after the March budget, recommends negotiating a better equalization deal.