The federal government’s deficit in 2017 would have reached a staggering $39 billion – instead of the $19 billion recorded – if not for the disproportionate net revenue contributions from Alberta, according to a new study released Thursday by the Fraser Institute.
The study, How Albertans Continue to keep Federal Finances Afloat, said that between 2014 and 2017, even at the depths of Alberta’s recession, the province sent Ottawa $92 billion more than it received in federal transfer payments and services.
During the same period, Ontario – the next highest contributing province – had a net contribution of $38.6 billion.
Quebec received $71.9 billion more in federal transfers than it contributed to Ottawa, the Canadian public policy think-tank said.
“Canadians are aware of Ottawa’s recent large deficits, but it’s less well known that the financial contributions of Albertans every year keep those deficits from being much larger,” said Ben Eisen, Fraser Institute senior fellow and co-author of the report.
“Even in recession, Albertans stabilized federal finances and kept Ottawa’s deficits from soaring to much higher levels, which would have negatively impacted all Canadians and future generations.”
The report said that without Alberta’s large net contribution to the federal government’s bottom line, the recent federal deficits would have been much larger. For example, in 2017, the deficit would have been approximately $20 billion larger (more than doubling in size from $19 billion to $39 billion) without Alberta’s contribution, it said.
“Canadians everywhere should understand that Canada’s fiscal health continues to rely heavily on Alberta’s economic success, so policy-makers in all provinces should do what they can to help Alberta succeed – this includes helping ensure the completion of pipelines and other resource projects,” said Steve Lafleur, Fraser Institute senior policy analyst and study co-author.
– Mario Toneguzzi