Blog | May 28, 2014

Dave Mabell, Lethbridge HeraldThe dollars are there. With no tax increases, everyday Alberta families could see smaller class sizes, more child-care facilities and long-promised nursing care spaces for their elderly parents.Albertans could also bolster their Family and Community Support Services programs, a Lethbridge audience learned, and they could restore the Student Temporary Employment Program for students earning their tuition fees.What’s more, says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, hard-working Albertans earning anywhere from $25,000 to $90,000 per year would actually pay less income tax. That could happen, he says, if the Alberta government collected income tax in the same way as every other province.Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of Public Interest Alberta, met community service providers in Lethbridge as part of a year-long campaign urging a return to a “progressive” income tax system in place of the “flat tax” imposed by Premier Klein in 2001. Neither the federal government nor any other province followed Klein’s example.While Klein’s tax saves the province’s biggest earners (three per cent) many millions of dollars, he says, it means ordinary Albertans pay up to 50 per cent more than their counterparts in British Columbia.Meanwhile, their government reneges on campaign promises like full-day kindergarten and 1,000 long-term care spaces for low-income seniors.“For far too long, the government has said what Alberta can’t do, because they refuse to change the flat tax system that only benefits very wealthy Albertans,” Moore-Kilgannon says.“We launched this campaign because Albertans want to talk about what we could do in this wealthy province.”As part of the initiative, the public advocacy group has launched a website – AlbertaCould.org – which shows how much better the provincial government could support family-related and community programs if income tax was calculated in the same way as neighbouring Saskatchewan.Since the start of the fiscal year on April 1, he says, Alberta could have already collected more than $711,000,000 through progressive income taxes and a lowest-in-Canada corporate tax rate matching Saskatchewan’s 12 per cent.Over the fiscal year, Moore-Kilgannon says, Alberta would collect an extra $4.5 billion – going a long way toward fulfilling the government’s promises. That would not involve a sales tax, he adds, but it would see middle-income earners’ taxes reduced.In Lethbridge, says daycare spokesperson Sherry Hunt, taxes collected in the same way as Saskatchewan and every other province could provide childcare spaces for working parents.“At a time when 53,585 children were born in Alberta last year and thousands of families are moving to Alberta, there are only a small percentage of needed childcare spaces being created.”Hunt, president of the Children’s House Childcare Society and chair of Public Interest Alberta’s childcare task force, points out the government cancelled its space creation grants in 2011.A progressive income tax could also help homeowners in Lethbridge and across the province, Moore-Kilgannon says, if the government simply honoured its Family and Community Support Services agreement with city and town councils. Local taxpayers are expected to cover 20 per cent of the shared-cost program, he explains, but they’re paying far more because the Conservatives froze the province’s support in 2009.“It’s time that we have a serious conversation about how to make our tax system fairer, and able to support the quality public services that Albertans need and value,” he says.
Original article here)

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