A new survey shows 74 per cent of Canadians — including the majority of Albertans — continue to support Canada’s equalization program which helps less prosperous provinces.
A total of 57 per cent of Albertans support equalization, according to the results of the Confederation of Tomorrow 2022 Survey by Environics Institute For Survey Research.
Survey results also mean that Alberta’s October 2021 referendum on equalization had little impact on public opinion, either inside or outside Alberta.
Currently, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba receive equalization payments, while Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta do not.
In recent years premiers in Alberta and Saskatchewan have criticized the program while both resource-based economies faced growing financial difficulties.
In last year’s referendum, Albertans voted 61.7 per cent in favour and 38.3 per cent against removing the principle of equalization payments from the Constitution.
But the report on the Confederation survey noted only 39 per cent of Albertans voted so it was not clear if the referendum results reflected the views of most Albertans.
The new survey also found that Canadians, including those living in provinces that don’t receive equalization transfers, are more likely to favour increasing equalization payments than decreasing them.
Thirty-three per cent say transfers should increase, 14 per cent support a decrease, 17 per cent had no opinion, and 35 per cent supported the status quo.
The proportion of Albertans favouring a decrease in equalization transfers actually fell from 34 per cent in 2019 to 30 per cent in 2022.
Surprisingly, the survey found many Canadians were unsure if their province received equalization payments. Only about one in two Albertans knew that their province did not receive the transfer.