Alberta premier heads to Ottawa asking for $2.4B in fiscal stabilization
Jason Kenney will meet with prime minister on Tuesday
Premier Jason Kenney will head into his meeting with the prime minister on Tuesday asking for $2.4 billion in fiscal stabilization money going back five years, $700 million more than the previous request.
The amount is based on the money Kenney believes Alberta would have received had there not been a $60-per- resident cap on fiscal stabilization payments over the five years since the oil price crash started in 2014.
The original request was $1.7 billion. But the total was revised after talking to federal finance officials about the amount from 2015-16.
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The Fiscal Stabilization Program is intended to help provinces when they experience a sudden drop in revenues.
Kenney told reporters at a news conference in Edmonton on Friday that he is optimistic Ottawa is listening.
"We haven't had anything like an assurance, but we have had, let me just say, language that sounds like an openness to talk to us about this," he said, adding that reform of the program is expected to be discussed at a meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers on Dec. 14.
Kenney is heading to Ottawa with eight cabinet ministers, nine deputy and associate deputy ministers and government caucus chair Todd Loewen, the UCP MLA for Central Peace-Notley. The ministers and their respective officials will meet with their federal counterparts.
Kenney is also meeting with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. He will address the Canadian Club on Monday.
The premier said the efforts are aimed at raising awareness of Alberta's economic contribution to the rest of Canada.
"The message I will be carrying on behalf of Albertans to Ottawa next week is that we need to see action," Kenney said. "And we are not seeking a special deal. We are seeking a fair deal."
Deron Bilous, the NDP Opposition critic for Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, said the previous government he was part of never sent this size of delegation on a trip like this and wondered how efficient it would be.
"I look at this more as a publicity stunt versus effectively trying to build relationships," Bilous said.
"I do agree that Alberta needs to go to Ottawa. We can't just wait for Ottawa to come to us. I just question this current tactic that the premier is using."
As for Kenney's efforts to get extra money from the fiscal stabilization fund, Bilous said Kenney was on the federal cabinet that approved the current equalization formula.