With the creation of an Equalization Fairness Panel comprised of four blue-ribbon experts on the subject, Wildrose is ensuring that Alberta will have a clear direction on equalization policy prior to the upcoming round of negotiations, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
The four-member panel is comprised of leading experts on equalization from across the country. The group will develop a final report by Oct. 15 based on their deliberations and review of feedback from Albertans, which will be tabled in the legislature this fall. The current equalization agreement expires in 2019.
Albertans are invited to submit their ideas to the panel.
“Albertans and all Canadians deserve to know they have an equalization system that treats everyone fairly. A thorough review of our country’s current equalization formula, as well as a call for an independent set of recommendations on what Alberta should start talking about with our partners in the federation, is in everyone's best interest,” Wildrose Leader and Shadow Intergovernmental Minister Brian Jean said. “With the rapid decline in commodity prices, Albertans are hurting and want to see their leaders putting forward proactive solutions on how to address the issues they are most concerned about.”
The mandate of the panel is to develop a position on equalization that meets the constitutional intentions behind the equalization program in a way that is fair, not only to Alberta, but to all provinces. The panel's mandate letter can be read in full here.
The four members of the panel include:
- Dr. Frank Atkins, Co-Chair (Alberta);
- David MacKinnon, Co-Chair (Ontario);
- Ben Eisen (Ontario); and
- Dr. Marco Navarro-Génie (Nova Scotia).
Their bios can be found here.
The equalization program was developed in 1957, and Alberta has not received an equalization payment from the federal government since 1963.
Panel Co-Chair Dr. Atkins said this will be an exciting opportunity to hear from Albertans and Canadians on the current state of Canada’s equalization formula, and ways to improve it.
“The current equalization formula has long been debated and I look forward to analyzing the current formula with our panel members,” Dr. Atkins said. “We hope to engage Albertans and Canadians and look forward to receiving their feedback.”