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What about the equalization program itself? Three in four support it. Support is lowest in Saskatchewan and Alberta, but even there, a majority is still on board. What’s more, support for equalization in Alberta increased six points, from 51 to 57 per cent, in the year since Kenney’s government came to office, while the proportion opposed fell from 40 to 34 per cent.
Of course, many Canadians — and indeed several premiers — may support the idea behind equalization, while nonetheless objecting to the way its benefits are distributed in practice. But the mechanics of the program are notoriously hard to follow. In fact, the survey finds that a plurality of Canadians (42 per cent) cannot say whether their province receives equalization payments — with the proportion just as high in provinces that currently receive equalization payments as it is in those that do not.
In provinces that currently qualify for equalization, only one in two correctly say that they are receiving payments. And among non-recipient provinces, only one in three correctly say that they do not. While Alberta stands out as the only non-recipient province where a majority correctly say that their province does not receive equalization payments, even there, only 54 per cent give this correct response.
Further, among those in the province who are aware that it does not receive equalization, support for the program falls below 50 per cent. A referendum campaign will have a head start among these voters.