Fraser Institute News Release: Equalization discourages natural resource development in “have-not” provinces

Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Aug. 25, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Canada’s equalization program discourages natural resource development in “have-not” provinces, including all three Maritime provinces, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Many problems exist within Canada’s equalization program, including how it actually discourages natural resource development in have-not provinces,” said Ben Eisen, senior fellow at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Measuring the Equalization Clawback on Natural Resource Revenue in Have-Not Provinces.

“Clawbacks” refer to the loss of equalization dollars for have-not provinces as a result of increasing natural resource revenues.  As a province receives more revenue from natural resource developments, it receives less money from the federal government in equalization transfers.

Consequently, governments in have-not provinces that receive equalization are discouraged by the clawbacks from developing natural resources—while natural resources can be lucrative, equalization payments are less risky than revenues from natural resources.

And the clawbacks on natural resource revenues are significant.

For example, in 2018/19, the clawback rate from a ten per cent increase in natural resource revenue ranged from 44 per cent in Prince Edward Island to 97 per cent in New Brunswick. Put another way, for every 10 dollars of increased natural resource revenue a government received, it lost $4.40 to $9.70 in equalization money.

In 2020/21, the clawbacks from a ten per cent increase in natural resource revenue ranged from a low of 3.2 per cent in Quebec to 47.4 per cent in Prince Edward Island.

“By discouraging natural resource development, Canada’s equalization program—with its clawbacks on resource revenues—is actually preventing have-not provinces from prospering,” said Alex Whalen, policy analyst at the Fraser Institute and study co-author.


Ben Eisen, Senior Fellow
Fraser Institute

Alex Whalen, Policy Analyst
Fraser Institute

To arrange media interviews or for more information, please contact:
Drue MacPherson, Fraser Institute
604-688-0221 ext. 721

Follow the Fraser Institute on Twitter  |  Like us on Facebook

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit