Thank you very much for the invitation to appear. It really is an honour to be here today before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
While everyone's economies are in uncharted waters across Canada, after a five-year downturn, Alberta has been hit extra hard by the COVID-19 crash in energy demand dovetailing with a price war between Russia and OPEC. It seems to most Albertans that if it were central or eastern Canada where a critical economic sector or even a prominent company was temporarily blown into the ditch by international storms, the federal government would be right there with financial and other support.
Thus far, all we've heard coming to Alberta is about $1 billion for reclaiming orphaned wells, as well as some nationwide loan supports that are hard for our energy companies to access. For perspective on that $1 billion, Albertans paid more into the $9-billion auto sector bailout in 2009. What we've seen thus far feels a little more like a nudge into retirement than any kind of stimulus.
As our group Fairness Alberta has shown, Albertans have contributed so much to the rest of Canada, federal revenues in particular, that we believe it's both fair and also in the interest of the federal government and the national economy to give more consideration to the particular issues in our province as we struggle through the worst of this extended downturn. To raise awareness across Canada, we have a billboard right now in Ottawa, on St. Laurent Boulevard, noting that Albertans have made a net contribution of $324 billion since the year 2000.
Every time the government repeats the fact that Canada is in a fiscal position to weather this storm, I think of that $324-billion cushion provided by Albertans. This amount works out to about a $320,000 net contribution per family of four over 20 years. It's really a staggering number. For the members of Parliament who are not from Alberta, that's meant about an average $42,000 benefit to the families in your ridings.
Just for clarity, these aren't just boom-time dollars. In 2017, when we were well into this economic downturn and provincial revenues had just dropped 20%, Canada still got a net benefit of $15.2 billion from Albertans, or $15,000 per family of four.
Now, I do want to be clear. Albertans are proud and grateful for their ability to contribute to the country, just as any province would be, but I believe there are two things that have stoked discontent in Alberta that you should recognize as you consider strategies to pull Canada's economy out of this COVID-induced lethargy. The first is the many ways that federal programs, spending on goods and services, and provincial transfers all unfairly direct spending to other provinces. The second is the target that seems to be on our backs despite these contributions.
Regarding the first point, the annual $15 billion to $27 billion net contribution from Alberta has many elements that we at Fairness Alberta are diving into. Consider provincial transfers: The size of the health and social transfers mean that Albertans are contributing another $3 billion more than we get back for services that are constitutionally provincial. We just wonder if that's fair, given the equalization program adds another $20 billion on top of that, or as the Library of Parliament document that I sent you earlier today shows, the federal government spends far less on goods and services in Alberta than in any other province. We fund about $11 billion of the total, but even with two large military bases and so many indigenous communities, only $5 billion gets spent back into Alberta. Is that $6-billion difference fair?
The second point that fuels anger and discord is of course the target placed on the diverse, integrated, world-leading energy industry that has driven our large fiscal contribution. While competitors internationally innovate and drive, even amidst lower prices, our industry has faced fights over pipelines, tanker bans and GHG-related policies that create large, competitive disadvantages.
The result has been investment in jobs sent to regimes with far worse environmental or labour standards. Russia recently announced a $155-billion new oil and gas megaproject. That's almost exactly the amount that Alberta has had cancelled or postponed in the last decade. This is not progress.
To conclude, it's critical that you think long and hard about the economic impacts of the policies being considered, particularly things like the new clean fuel standards that might cripple the natural gas sector, as well as any stimulus funds and how they are directed.
I'd also ask you to use the lens of whether this is fair to Albertans. Is this unnecessarily undermining their children's chance at future prosperity when over the last two decades we've used so much of their prosperity to strengthen Canada?
We need every province operating at maximum capacity if Canada is going to recover from this COVID crisis. Please remember what Albertans operating at a high capacity has meant to this country in the past, because with your co-operation, we can help make Canada stronger than ever.
Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to your questions.