RED DEER – Public Interest Alberta hosted a public discussion in Red Deer for its Revenue Reno campaign, which aims to stimulate a broad 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.
“Alberta simply cannot raise enough money from natural resource revenues going forward to maintain the level of public services and infrastructure we have today,” said Ricardo Acuña, executive director of the Parkland Institute. “The choice is clear: increase taxes or drastically cut services. There is no third option.”
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:
“School boards work hard to put every dollar back into the classroom. Our schools need the resources to positively impact every student, such as improving classroom conditions, utilizing special equipment to assist students with physical and mental challenges, building new schools in growing communities, and modernizing older schools. These kinds of improvements require school boards to have sustainable and predictable funding from the province.” – Dianne Macaulay, Red Deer Public Schools Trustee
“Social workers work with the most marginalized and disadvantaged members of our community. Continued, adequate, and equitable provision of health and social services is vital to the populations that we serve. It is my hope that as a collective, we open an engaging dialogue that discusses the integral need for sustainability of our public programs. This is an issue that affects us all.” – Darnel T. Forro, Instructor in Social Work, Red Deer College
“Health-care advocates have been saying for years that Red Deer needs more hospital beds, more operating rooms and more emergency resources. The reason why these resources are missing is that Alberta’s revenue system is broken. As front-line health-care professionals, HSAA members know the system is struggling. If we hope to fix this situation and ensure all Albertans have access to the health care they need, we need revenue reform and we need it now.” – Trudy Thomson, Vice-President, Health Sciences Association of Alberta
The campaign website, with its feature animated video, can be found at www.RevenueReno.ca.
The public discussion event took place on April 24th at the Cornerstone Dining Room at Red Deer College.
Joel French, Executive Director
Public Interest Alberta