Government not listening to Albertans' priorities in its own surveyEDMONTON—The results of the Alberta government’s survey clearly shows that the majority of Albertans do not want the government to cut public services and instead are calling for a progressive income tax and an increase to corporate taxes.
The fact that 75% of respondents said the government should protect key services from cuts, even if that means running a deficit, shows that the vast majority of Albertans do not support the government’s plan to cut services.
The question “In what ways can the government act to increase and/or stabilize its revenues without jeopardizing Alberta’s competitive position?” shows that the top three choices for increasing revenue are for increased taxes on cigarettes (71%), increase corporate taxes (69%), and establish a graduated income tax on taxable income above $100,000 (58%). Only 8.5% of Albertans who took the survey said there should be no tax increase at all.
“By rejecting any increase to corporate taxes out of hand, the Minister is clearly showing he is not listening to the priorities of Albertans,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “We must remember that corporations only pay taxes on their profits, so bringing our corporate tax rates in line with that of Saskatchewan at 12% would not have the detrimental effect to jobs and the economy that is threatened by the Minister.”
When the survey asks “If the government needs to increase its revenues through taxation, are there options you feel should NOT be considered?”, the top response is not to bring back health care premiums (50.4%). However, last month the Finance Minister said Albertans want health premiums. The survey also failed to even ask the question if Albertans think we are getting a fair share for our energy royalties.
“The Minister seems to be seeing the results of this survey through wildrose-coloured glasses”, says Moore-Kilgannon. "To say Albertans want cuts to public services while rejecting increases to corporate taxes requires the ultimate in government spin."
Public Interest Alberta has been calling for a real fix to Alberta’s revenue problems since the launch of the “Alberta Could” campaign in April of 2014. The campaign did a poll at the time that showed that the top priority for Albertans was investing more in public services (47%) followed by investments in public infrastructure (21%). Only 4% said it was a priority to reduce taxes.