It is no longer called the "prosperity bonus," but Albertans finally learned yesterday how the provincial government plans to dole out at least $1.4-billion in dividend cheques.
Many have been eagerly awaiting the details since Premier Ralph Klein announced in September that a plan was in the works to give all residents, including the homeless, a small slice of the province's ballooning unbudgeted surplus.
Fuelled by oil and natural-gas royalties, the surplus could be as high as $8.8-billion this year, Mr. Klein said recently.
But the one-time dividend, which government officials now call a "resource rebate," has not been free of controversy.
There has been criticism that the money could be better spent -- for example, on eliminating health-care premiums -- and that the $400 cheques may promote national envy of the province's wealth.
"I don't know where that comes from," Finance Minister Shirley McClellan told reporters yesterday.
The program is expected to cost $10-million to administer.
She said Alberta residents deserve the cheques, which are