A fair deal for Alberta
The Fair Deal Panel consulted tens of thousands of Albertans through in-person town hall meetings, an online survey, and stakeholder interviews to get input on how best to define and secure a fair deal for Alberta.
The panel submitted its final report to government in May 2020. It recommended numerous ways to ensure Alberta has a strong voice in Confederation, including fairer funding allocations from Ottawa, better representation for Alberta in the House of Commons, and exploration of an Alberta Pension Plan and Alberta Police Force.
Read the Fair Deal Panel Final Report to Government
*On page 17, the table highlights Alberta's contributions to net federal fiscal transfers, of which equalization is a portion.
The Fair Deal Panel's report contained 25 recommendations that the government has broken into 4 response categories:
- recommendations where work is already underway and will continue
- recommendations the government accepts-in-principle and will work to implement immediately
- recommendations where there is support to conduct further analysis
- recommendatons that do not completely align with government direction and further analysis and/or modifications are required
No recommendations were rejected outright.
Read the full Government Response to the Fair Deal Panel Report
Recommendations already underway
There are a significant number of Fair Deal Panel recommendations where significant work is already underway and will continue.
Recommendation 1 | Press strenuously for the removal of the current constraints on the Fiscal Stabilization Program, which prevent Albertans from receiving a $2.4 billion equalization rebate.
- The Government of Alberta has and will continue to advocate for retroactive changes to the Fiscal Stabilization Program through various means. Indeed, Budget 2020 dedicated a separate chapter to the federal-provincial fiscal issues (“A Fair Deal for Alberta”), which outlined Alberta’s case for reforming the Fiscal Stabilization Program.
Recommendation 3 | Collaborate with other jurisdictions to reduce trade barriers within Canada and pressure the federal government to enforce free trade in Canada.
- Alberta has taken a leadership role in reducing trade barriers within Canada.
- The province continues to call on the federal government and other provinces and territories to eliminate their trade barriers and follow Alberta’s lead by removing their Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) exceptions.
- Alberta also continues to promote the benefits of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA) to provinces and territories across Canada. The NWPTA is the most open and comprehensive trade agreement within Canada, covering all economic sectors with only a handful of exceptions.
Recommendation 4 | Collaborate with other jurisdictions and other stakeholders to secure cross-border rights of way and create unobstructed corridors within Canada to tidewater and world markets.
- Alberta has led high-level conversations with other Premiers at national events, such as the Council of the Federation and First Minister meetings, regarding the importance of pursing economic corridors to support the movement of Canada’s products to new markets. Alberta will continue to pursue this policy objective with our willing partners and advocate for other jurisdictions to join in supporting corridors on the national stage. A government MLA will be appointed to lead further work in this area.
Recommendation 5 | Collaborate with other jurisdictions to design and advance regional strategies for northern development; pressure the federal government to implement those strategies.
- The Northern Alberta Development Council (NADC) is a public agency accountable to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism (EDTT). Its mandate is to investigate, monitor, evaluate, plan and promote practical measures to foster and advance development in northern Alberta.
- NADC will continue to focus on the development of one or more multi-modal corridors across the north, which would include broadband, utilities, roadways, and rail. Alberta will develop a Northern Strategy for Alberta, which will further develop the corridor concepts and complement the work of other provincial and territorial members of the Northern Minister’s Development Forum.
Recommendation 6 A & B | Support and press for the strictest possible application of the principle of representation by population in the House of Commons. Work with other provinces and the federal government to democratize the Senate appointment process.
- The Government recently reintroduced the Senatorial Selection Act to ensure a democratic appointment process for current and future Senate appointments. The government has also committed to holding Senate elections in conjunction with the 2021 municipal elections. Finally, a letter advocating for a more representative share of House of Commons seats will be sent to the federal government in the coming weeks.
Recommendation 10 | Collaborate with other provinces and industry to advance market-based approaches to environmental protection, including a reduction in GHG emissions.
- Alberta is working with other jurisdictions that share the common objective of ensuring that climate change response plans are locally-developed and reflective of the unique circumstances in each province and territory.
- This includes a commitment to ensuring we balance our necessary energy development with the need to address climate change.
Recommendation 11 | Continue to challenge federal legislation that affects provincial jurisdiction.
- The Government of Alberta has a number of court challenges of federal legislation underway, including on Bill C-69 (the new environmental assessment and regulation act) and the federal carbon pricing scheme, where we were victorious.
- Alberta will continue to push back against all unwarranted intrusions into provincial jurisdiction, whether though political, intergovernmental, or legal mechanisms.
Recommendation 15 | Appoint an Alberta Chief Firearms Officer (CFO).
- The decision to appoint a Chief Provincial Firearms Officer was made in early June 2020. A letter of intent will be sent to the federal Minister to commence the negotiation process.
Recommendation 16 | Secure a seat at the table when the federal government negotiates and implements international agreements and treaties affecting Alberta’s interests.
- Alberta has strenuously pursue advocacy work to ensure a formal seat for Alberta at the negotiating table. The province will put this message in writing to the federal government.
Recommendation 17 | Strengthen Alberta’s presence in Ottawa.
- The Government of Alberta has announced that it will open advocacy offices in Ottawa, British Columbia and Quebec.
- The Ottawa office will be a formal establishment with staff dedicated to the task of advancing Alberta’s interests on the national stage.
Recommendation 20 | Continue to diversify Alberta’s economy in the energy sector and beyond.
- Alberta continues to work diligently to diversify the energy economy as well as explore opportunities for diversification. This includes increasing Alberta’s competitive advantage by focusing on our principle industries (Energy, Agriculture and Tourism) and empowering sectors such as technology, aviation, air cargo, aerospace, financial services, fintech and rare earth minerals.
- Alberta will continue to work diligently with various federal ministries and agencies to ensure we can maximize the federal contribution to Alberta’s priority areas.
Recommendation 21 | Vigorously pursue access to markets for Alberta’s exports.
- Alberta will continue to vigorously pursue the completion of all major pipeline projects that support moving the province’s valuable resources to market, including investing in the Keystone XL pipeline and advocating for the completion of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project.
- Alberta also has a strong international presence with 12 international offices, including Washington, D.C., and Beijing. These international offices will continue to play a vital role in advancing Alberta’s interests on the world stage through trade promotion, investment attraction and advocacy initiatives.
Recommendation 24 | Use democratic tools such as referenda and citizens’ initiatives to seek Albertans’ guidance on selected Fair Deal Panel proposals and other initiatives.
- The Government of Alberta has committed to introducing a Citizens’ Initiative Act, allowing citizens to bring their concerns and proposals forward to government for discussion or a possible referendum.
Recommendations agreed to in principle
There are a number of report recommendations that are immediately accepted in principle. Additional analysis may be required to develop implementation plans; that analysis work will be directed to appropriate Ministers immediately.
Recommendation 2 | Proceed with the proposed referendum on equalization, asking a clear question along the lines of: “Do you support the removal of Section 36, which deals with the principle of equalization, from the Constitution Act, 1982?”
- A commitment was made in the government’s platform to hold a referendum on equalization should significant progress not be made on the completion of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and other critical issues. Further work will be done to analyse what an appropriate question would be for an eventual referendum on equalization. This referendum could be held in conjunction with the 2021 municipal elections.
Recommendation 8 | Abolish or at least change the residency requirement for the federal courts.
- Alberta will begin to immediately advocate for the elimination of the long-standing and archaic rule to have federal court judges reside within the National Capital Region, which has unfairly punished Alberta residents.
Recommendation 9 | Assert more control over immigration for the economic benefit of Alberta.
- Alberta will continue to advocate for economic policies that make sense for Albertans, and that includes our immigration policies. Alberta will seek a more active role in the setting of immigrant numbers and policies with the federal government.
Recommendation 12 | Work with other provinces to secure a federal-provincial agreement prohibiting the federal government from spending, taxing, legislating or treaty making in areas of provincial or joint jurisdiction without the consent of the affected province(s).
- As Minister of Intergovernmental Relations, the Premier will champion an agreement that restricts federal overreach and ensures provinces and territories are able to assert their rightful place in the federation.
Recommendation 18 | Opt out of new federal cost-shared programs, subject to Alberta receiving full compensation.
- Alberta will seek to opt out of any federal programs that are inconsistent with Alberta’s interests, and will seek full compensation from the federal government, as appropriate. This will be Alberta’s approach with respect to the proposed federal approach to pharmaceuticals.
Recommendation 25 | Explore ways and means to affirm Alberta’s cultural, economic and political uniqueness in law and government policy.
- Alberta accepts this recommendation. While we currently work to affirm our cultural identity, more can be done. The Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women will be tasked with developing an action plan to implement this recommendation.
Recommendations with support for further analysis
There are a number of report recommendations that require further analysis and work before they could be implemented. These efforts will be directed to appropriate departments and detailed analysis will be developed in co-operation with ministers and the Premier’s Office.
Recommendation 7 | Secure a fairer share of federal civil service opportunities and federal offices in Western Canada.
Recommendation 13 A & B | Develop a comprehensive plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan and withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan. Subsequently, provide Albertans the opportunity, via a referendum, to vote for or against withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan and creating the Alberta Pension Plan
Recommendation 14 | Create an Alberta Police Service to replace the RCMP.
- An independent assessment of a possible transition to an Alberta police service is underway. The study will allow the government to make an informed decision as to whether a dedicated provincial police service is in the best interests of Albertans. The study will also consider operational requirements, processes and potential costs for creating a provincial police service.
Recommendations that require modification
While the government accepts most of the Fair Deal Panel’s recommendations, there are instances where the recommendations do not align with existing platform commitments or with current government direction and policy. A brief explanation of the modifications required to bring these recommendations in line with existing government priorities is included below.
Recommendation 19 | Resist federal intrusions into health and social programming, and do not seek to exchange cash payments for tax points at this time.
- The Government of Alberta supports resisting federal intrusions into health and social programming. However, seeking an exchange of tax points for existing tax payments was a platform commitment.
- Accordingly, work will proceed to scope and analyse the most effective approaches and timing for seeking such a fundamental shift in Canada’s fiscal arrangements, along with potential alternative reforms that would advance Alberta’s interests.
Recommendation 22 | Make no changes, at this time, to the administration of agreements that Alberta public agencies and municipalities have with the Government of Canada.
- While the Government did not commit in its platform to restructuring the relationship with municipalities, working collaboratively with municipalities is critical to ensuring federal funding aligns with provincial outcomes, and has the greatest impact for Albertans.
- While the majority of federal funding programs are co-ordinated through the Government of Alberta, ways to improve co-ordination between municipalities, the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada should be continually assessed for efficiency and effectiveness.
- No changes are anticipated at this time to the relationship between public agencies and other orders/levels of government. However, the Government of Alberta may choose to revisit this in the future.
Recommendation 23 A & B | Make no changes to tax collection in Alberta at this time and support Quebec in its bid to collect the federal and provincial portions of personal income taxes and, if Quebec is successful, pursue the same strategy if it is advantageous.
- The Government of Alberta supports Quebec in their efforts to pursue the collection of both the provincial and federal portions of personal income taxes.
- Significant further analysis is required on the feasibility of a provincial tax collection agency, including understanding the benefits of policy flexibility against the cost of additional compliance and administrative requirements.
In addition to recommendations of the panel, the government has pursued a number of concrete actions to secure a fair deal for Albertans.
Carbon tax repeal
- Introduce the Carbon Tax Repeal Act and challenge the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax by filing a judicial reference to the Court of Appeal, while continuing to support similar challenges by the governments of Saskatchewan and Ontario.
- Passed the Carbon Tax Repeal Act, effective May 30, 2019, and secured a declaration from the Alberta Appeal Court that the federal carbon tax is unconstitutional. Also supporting appeals by Saskatchewan and Ontario on the federal carbon tax to the Supreme Court of Canada.
- Immediately file a constitutional challenge to strike the federal government’s “No More Pipelines” Bill C-69 as a violation of Section 92 of the Constitution Act, which gives Alberta clear, exclusive jurisdiction over the production of oil and gas.
- Filed a constitutional challenge of Bill C-69 at the Alberta Court of Appeal. Decision is pending.
- To proclaim into law the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act, to make it clear that Alberta will defend the value of its resources against provincial governments that seek to block pipelines.
- Alberta proclaimed the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act (Bill 12) on April 30, 2019.
Indigenous participation in resource development
- Create a $10-million litigation fund to support pro-development Indigenous communities defending their right to be consulted on major energy projects.
- Alberta created the Indigenous Litigation Fund which is now supporting the Woodland Cree First Nation’s constitutional challenge of the federal Bill C-69.
- The government further supports Indigenous participation through the creation of the Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, backed by up to $1 billion to support Indigenous financial participation in major resource projects.
CMHC Stress Test
- Challenge the federal government’s unfair one-size-fits-all approach to mortgages by demanding Canada Mortgage and Home Corporation (CMHC) stress tests are removed from Alberta residents.
- Alberta has worked to continually advocate for changes to the CMHC stress test, which through its unilateral application does not reflect the needs of Alberta homebuyers. While the federal government announced changes to the program, they still do not take into account the different circumstances of the Alberta housing market and continue to disadvantage Alberta homebuyers and make it even more difficult for Albertans to qualify for CMHC mortgage insurance.
Employment Insurance reforms
- Demand reforms to Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program so that Albertans who lose their jobs are not penalized and treated unfairly compared to other Canadians.
- Alberta has continued to raise this issue with the federal government, most recently during the December 2019 Ministers’ Mission to Ottawa. At that time, Alberta noted that Alberta employers and workers consistently pay more into the EI program than they receive.
- Alberta would like EI program reform to ensure equitable treatment of Albertans who lose their jobs and employers who pay EI premiums.
Development of an Alberta Parole Board
- End Alberta’s agreement with the Parole Board of Canada and pass legislation to create an Alberta Parole Board.
- In June 2020, Alberta announced our intention to create our own parole board to provide a fairer, faster and more responsive justice system that helps end the “revolving door” that enables repeat offenders to target Albertans, particularly in rural areas.
- Seek to form federal and provincial agreement on resource corridors, which are pre-approved land corridors to expedite major resource project approvals; a key part of these corridors would be facilitating aboriginal co-ownership of financial participation, where relevant.
- After Premier Kenney raised this topic at the Summer 2019 Council of the Federation (COF) meeting, all jurisdictions agreed to do further work on this concept. Alberta officials are working with other provinces and territories to prepare a report that explores ways to enhance the existing connections between provinces and territories to provide a more co-ordinated and strategic approach for transportation and transmission of resources across Canada. This report will be presented to premiers in advance of the 2020 COF meeting, and will provide options for future collaborative work.
Canadian Free Trade
- Clarify the vital rights of Canadians to sell their goods and services and exercise their trades and professions in every part of Canada
- Alberta has unilaterally scrapped 21 of 27 exemptions under the Canada Free Trade Agreement, becoming the province with the lowest internal trade barriers.
- Led an effort to expand Central and Eastern Canadian provinces in the New West Partnership Agreement.
- Continuing policy work on the potential unilateral recognition of Canadian trade and professional certification.
National support for pipelines
- Build an interprovincial coalition of provinces that supports jobs, pipelines, and our energy industry, making it a top issue in federal-provincial relations.
- Secured support from 12 of 13 provinces and territories for national resource and energy corridors, including oil and gas pipelines.
Federal funding for post-secondary research
- Investigate why Alberta’s post-secondary institutions receive less federal sponsored research revenue than the national average and develop a strategy to engage the federal government and find ways to increase federal research funding to Alberta.
- Created a working group with post-secondary institutions, Alberta Innovates and industry representatives to examine federal funding disparities, develop a unified approach and help Alberta’s post-secondary institutions get their fair share.
Meet the panel
Oryssia Lennie CM, panel chair
Ms. Lennie worked for the Government of Alberta for more than 25 years and, federally, was Deputy Minister of Western Economic Diversification Canada. She is also the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s 2002 Award for Excellence in Public Administration. In December 2016, she was appointed to the Order of Canada.
Preston Manning PC CC AOE
Mr. Manning’s long record of public service includes work as founder of the Reform Party, as a Member of Parliament from Calgary Southwest from 1993-2002, and as the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition from 1997-2000. He is one of Canada's leading thinkers on public policy and constitutional reform.
Mr. Lougheed is a national leader in innovation and technology-related businesses serving environmental, resource, utility, public sector and ICT markets. He has served on numerous boards and as President and CEO of Alberta Innovates.
Mr. Goodstriker was a member and former Band Councillor of the Blood Tribe of the Blackfoot people. He served as Alberta Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations and worked in a variety of capacities in the energy industry for many years.
*Chief Goodstriker passed away unexpectedly on January 16, 2020. He was a valued and irreplaceable member of the Fair Deal Panel.
Donna Kennedy-Glans QC
Ms. Kennedy-Glans represented the electoral district of Calgary Varsity in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 2012-2015. She chaired the all-party Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship and served as Associate Minister – Electricity and Renewable Energy. Before entering politics she had a distinguished career as a lawyer and businesswoman in the Alberta energy industry and founded a non-profit to train youth and professional leaders in Yemen and in First Nations communities in Alberta.
Drew Barnes, MLA
Mr. Barnes is the MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat. He was first elected in 2012. Barnes spent 26 years in real estate managing a successful real estate office in Medicine Hat before entering politics. He has a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Alberta.
Moin Yahya PhD JD
Mr. Yahya is a Professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, where he was Vice Dean from 2014-2019. Before attending law school, Yahya was employed with Industry Canada's Competition Bureau. He has an M.A. in Economics from the University of Alberta, a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Toronto, and a J.D. (Summa Cum Laude) from George Mason University School of Law.
Miranda Rosin, MLA
Ms. Rosin is the MLA for Banff-Kananaskis. She was first elected in 2019. Rosin previously worked in communications and market development. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Marketing and International Business from the University of Regina in conjunction with the Shanhai Lixin University of Commerce.
Tany Yao, MLA
Mr. Yao is the MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. He was first elected in 2015. Yao previously spent 20 years in emergency response services, filling a variety of roles. He has also volunteered his time in support of various non-profit and charitable organizations.
- Getting a fair deal for Alberta’s researchers (July 22, 2020)
- Getting a fair deal for Alberta (June 17, 2020)
- Fair Deal Panel submits report to government (May 16, 2020)
- Fair Deal Panel launches online public survey (Feb. 28, 2020)
- Fair Deal Panel town hall in Airdrie rescheduled (Jan. 24, 2020)
- Airdrie Fair Deal Panel town hall postponed (Jan. 16, 2020)
- Chair appointed to Fair Deal Panel (Nov. 28, 2019)
- Read Premier Kenney's speech (Nov. 9, 2019)
- Members, mandate for Fair Deal Panel announced (Nov. 9, 2019)