As the Equalization Payments policy gets closer to its renewal time (fall of 2014), we should all make an effort to understand this policy and how it affects the various provinces (those who make and those who take).
The principles of Equalization are in the Constitution, and those principles cannot be abandoned or altered without a constitutional amendment. The details of implementation of those principles is a matter of negotiation and policy, and can be altered so long as the principles are adhered to. As provinces change their economic status over time, or as new resources are found or included in a province's economy (as happened when Newfoundland negotiated inclusion of off-shore oil into their provincial economy) the way in which equalization is applied will change as a result of new federal-provincial negotiations.
As with several other policies entrenched into the 1982 Constitution, this one has not worked as it was meant to do. The “have-not” provinces that have been mainly the “takers” have been found to have better-funded social services than those who are the “makers”. Unfortunately, the Eastern provinces (Quebec, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia, Ontario) fall into the former category and the Western provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, B.C.) fall into the latter category. The exception to this general rule are: Newfoundland & Labrador stopped receiving transfers after 2008; Ontario began receiving after 2009. The “have-not” provinces have been receiving more and more every year - it is of interest to note that they are the ones with a substantial French-speaking population, ruled by socialist-type governments who believe in spending more than they earn. Is there a correlation between French-speakers & big-spenders?
Quebec has vast gas & oil resources which it refuses to exploit, preferring to live off the oil from Alberta.
The “have-not” provinces don’t give a damned as long as the “have” provinces are willing to just fork over the money - why should they? It’s up to those who have being robbed to put a stop to the robbery, don’t you think?
Ken Kellington of Alberta has kept a close eye on the actual transfer payments between 1957 - 2013 and has put the information on a table which is available upon request. In summary, the total amount of Equalization Transfers between 1957-2013:
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