Representation by population was a guiding principle in determining the allocation of seats in the House of Commons at the time of Confederation. However, over time, the representation formula that is used to readjust seats based on population changes has actually served to penalize some of Canada’s fastest-growing regions, especially Alberta.
Our government believes that each Canadian’s vote should carry equal weight. That is why we have introduced legislation to update the representation formula and restore the principle of fair representation to all provinces. Currently, 279 is set as the divisor in determining the average population count per federal seat. As a result, provinces with fast-growing populations, like Alberta, are prevented from receiving a fair share of seats because the actual number of Members in the House of Commons is now 308. That means that some provinces have larger ridings than others. For example, a federal riding in Alberta contains nearly 27,000 more constituents than ridings in most other provinces.
Currently, all provinces except Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario benefit from a constitutionally-guaranteed floor in representation. A key change that our government has proposed to the formula is to remove the divisor of 279 in determining the allocation of seats. Instead, a maximum national average riding population based on the most current census information will be used. Our proposed formula would result in additional seats for Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario in the next readjustment. No province would lose seats, due to constitutional seat guarantees. Our government is taking a principled approach that strikes a balance between restoring fairer representation for faster growing provinces, while protecting the seat counts of slower growth provinces.
For Alberta, this would mean the addition of five new federal seats in Parliament, and a stronger voice for a province that is among the fastest growing regions in all of Canada.