EDMONTON—Public Interest Alberta launched a year-long campaign today called “Alberta Could…” to advocate for a progressive income tax and increased corporate taxes to invest in the top priorities of Albertans.
The campaign is designed to inspire Albertans to envision what Alberta could achieve if we raised an additional two billion dollars for public services by establishing a progressive tax of 13% on individual taxable income over $100,000 and 15% on income over $150,000 and increase corporate taxes to the same rate as Saskatchewan at 12%.
A telephone poll conducted by Environics shows that the top priority of Albertans if an additional $2 billion of annual revenue was raised is “investing in public services like healthcare and education” (47%), followed by “Build more infrastructure – like schools and roads (21%) and “Pay down the provincial debt” (21%). The lowest priority is to “put money into savings” (4%) and “reduce other forms of taxes” (4%).
“It is time to expose the myth that tax cuts are a priority for Albertans and show that many people want to have a progressive tax system to pay for public services,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “What is really interesting is to see that there is support for a progressive income tax and higher corporate taxes across all income levels, including many high income earners, and also across the political spectrum.”
New data from the government comparing how much Alberta would bring in if we had the tax system of all of other provinces shows that if we had the same progressive income tax structure as Saskatchewan, we would bring in additional $3.8 billion and if we had all of the taxes of Saskatchewan we would bring in an additional $12.7 billion.
“Alberta’s personal and corporate income tax systems are out-of-step with other jurisdictions across Canada and around the world,” says Shannon Stunden Bower, Research Director at the Parkland Institute. “As a result, Albertans earning incomes of $60,000 per year pay 50 percent more in personal income tax than their counterparts in either British Columbia or Ontario, while Albertans earning $300,000 per year contribute from $7,000 to $24,000 less annually, depending on their province of residence."
The campaign website, www.AlbertaCould.org features a “Fair Tax Clock” that shows how much revenue could have been raised each day if the government had implemented a modest progressive income tax and raised corporate taxes effective April 1st (the beginning of the provincial fiscal year). The fair tax clock shows that with $164 million, Alberta Could have already reestablished the Summer Temporary Employment Program, achieved the government’s own class size targets for kindergarten to grade three, and establish a bursary to close the participation gap between underrepresented groups in post-secondary education.
“It’s important for people to know that the elimination of the STEP program left others holding the bag. A good example is the Green Shack summer camp program for children, where Edmonton community leagues have chipped in $110,000 this past spring to help keep it running,” said Allan Bolstad, Executive Director of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. “We remain hopeful that the province will recognize the number of worthwhile programs that were lost when STEP funding was eliminated and will come up with another way of financing these initiatives. Not only did it help non-profits like community leagues offer summer programs, but it helped thousands of students get a start in the job market.”
Mark Ramsankar, President of the Alberta Teachers’ Association said, “Quality education for our children is grounded in a fully-resourced and stable system. It must not hinge on the boom and bust of oil revenues. Ballooning class sizes, unsupported special needs and staff layoffs are the result of instable, unpredictable funding. Sustainable funding for a fully-resourced education system must come from stable revenue sources including fair corporate and progressive income taxes.
The campaign will include forums in six cities held in partnership with Parkland Institute and other organizations in the following cities:
- Lethbridge – May 26
- Medicine Hat – May 27
- Calgary – May 28
- Grande Prairie – June 2
- Red Deer – June 4
- Edmonton - June 5