EDMONTON – Public Interest Alberta has launched a new campaign called Revenue Reno to encourage a public conversation in the province about the government’s revenue shortage and the quality of public services. The campaign emphasizes Alberta’s need to renovate its tax system with changes to personal income tax rates and the introduction of a sales tax to protect and revitalize public services.
“It is clear that Alberta has a structural shortage of tax revenue, and it is a threat to our health care system, our schools, and supports for our most vulnerable residents,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “We all know that massive cuts to public services would hurt all Albertans, both present and future, and the only alternative is to renovate our tax system to raise significantly more revenue.”
The health of Alberta’s fiscal situation has relied on high non-renewable resource revenues for decades, but the campaign shows that is neither sustainable nor desirable going forward, and that non-renewable resource revenue should be saved for future generations.
"Projected natural resource revenues will not sustain the level of public services Albertans currently receive,” said Mel McMillan, professor emeritus at the University of Alberta’s Department of Economics. “Yet, it is difficult to anticipate the residents of the province, regardless of income level, being satisfied with a lower level of public services. A substantial increase to the government's annual tax revenue is the only responsible way to prevent significant cuts to public services."
Representatives of organizations made the following comments about why solving the revenue shortage is necessary to protect and revitalize the public services their members provide:
“It's time the government commits to reducing its reliance on non-renewable resource revenue by applying a more responsible tax structure to ensure the province has the steady revenue needed to protect the public services millions of Albertans rely on. Healthy investment in public services, combined with a responsible approach to revenue reform, is what’s needed to support a growing province like Alberta." – Jason Heistad, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees
“HSAA’s members are health care experts who work on the front lines and know better than anyone that there’s nothing left to cut. The health care cupboard is bare. If Alberta doesn’t find a way to create new revenue, front-line public care will have to be slashed and the effect on the work our members do, and on patients, will be devastating. We need revenue reform and we need it now.” – Mike Parker, President, Health Sciences Association of Alberta
“To ensure essential public services, including equitable and accessible health care, are there when Albertans need them, our province must develop sustainable revenues that are not subject to the whims of international commodity markets. This is especially so when Alberta's economy depends so heavily on revenues from a single resource.” – Heather Smith, President, United Nurses of Alberta
The campaign website, with its feature animated video, can be found at www.RevenueReno.ca.
Joel French, Executive Director
Public Interest Alberta