Equalization, provincial pensions and the RCMP: what Alberta’s Fair Deal Report recommends
CALGARY -- The provincial government has introduced its long awaited Fair Deal Panel Report and the findings recommend a shift toward more made-in-Alberta decision-making.
Of the 25 recommendations in the report, highlights include a call for a referendum on equalization, creating a provincial police force to replace the RCMP, creating a new pension plan and a push for more representation in the House of Commons and the Senate.
The panel, which was assembled last year, set out to find ways in which the province can attain more leverage within the country.
It says it received its input from thousands of Albertans through multiple town hall meetings and online consultation.
On Wednesday, its 68-page report was introduced at the legislature.
The UCP government has long hinted at many of the points listed inside.
Premier Jason Kenney has made it clear he wants Alberta to push for a stronger place within confederation, and the report suggests Albertans agree. In fact, it says only three of every 10 Alberta residents are satisfied with Canada.
The report's largest recommendation, and one that many predict will be acted on soon, is the call for a revamped equalization formula.
Alberta has contributed hundreds of billions of dollars into the program since its inception and it has long been the target of disdain from those on the prairies. While a referendum couldn’t stop the payments, the report says it would “morally obligate the federal government and other provinces to come to the table and negotiate the proposed amendment to the Constitution.”
Also inside, a recommendation the province develop a comprehensive plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan and withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan.
That report says a shift toward a provincial pension plan could also be put to a vote.
Albertans historically contribute high amounts to the federal plan.
Quebec has its own plan for pensioners and if Alberta went in the same direction, a new system could be implemented in the next three years.
Point 14 of the 25 recommendations is to create an Alberta Police Service to replace the RCMP. That line of the report cites “bloated Ottawa bureaucracy” weighing down the Mounties.
If the APS were created, some federal contributions would have to be absorbed by either the province or by municipalities.
A new police force would take at least two years to implement.
"The recommendations from the fair deal panel are not a cry for help," Kenney said. "They're a demand for fairness."
The report, which can be read here, also highlights the need for more representation in the House of Commons and in the senate and tells the province it should appoint its own Chief Firearms Officer. The Premier said steps have already been taken towards the latter recommendation.
The report comes as more and more suggest Alberta should separate from the rest of the country. Kenney said for now, that isn't on the table. Instead, he said he'd like to see some of the recommendations used as a way to negotiate a better place for Alberta in confederation.