EDMONTON - The Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances, which was appointed to make recommendations to the Alberta government on how to cut spending largely related to public services and infrastructure, appears to have gone beyond its mandate by making recommendations related to the province’s tax system. The Panel’s report prominently states, “Raising taxes is not the answer,” while providing no rationale or evidence to support that statement.
“The Panel’s recommendation against raising taxes flies in the face of the mandate the government gave it and reveals its true colours,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “This was nothing but an exercise in ideology by a group hell-bent on one thing: gutting the public services Albertans rely on to keep us healthy and educate our children.”
The Blue Ribbon Panel report recommended a cut of $600 million to operational spending and a four-year spending freeze, notwithstanding population growth and inflation.
“If we consider that Alberta’s population is expected grow by approximately 1.5% per year, and inflation is approximately 2% per year, the report is recommending a 14% cut over the next four years of this government’s mandate,” said French, “This is unacceptable, especially when there are common sense solutions to the real issue: revenue.”
Data published annually by the Government of Alberta shows that the tax system of any other province would raise significantly more revenue than Alberta currently generates and would raise a minimum of $11 billion more per year – more than enough to pay for the province’s current level of services.
“The UCP government has completely missed the issue at the heart of Alberta’s finances; our tax system is simply not designed to raise the revenue we need to fund our public services,” said French. “A comparison with the tax system of any other provinces in the country shows how misguided it is to simply look at spending cuts. This government has even made the issue worse by giving tax cuts to wealthy corporations. Renovating our tax system would protect our existing public services, as well as give us the ability to make much-needed improvements, like reducing class sizes in schools and waits for seniors’ care.”