Advocacy group says tax reform, sales tax needed to get province off revenue roller coaster

By rdnewsNOW staff
April 25, 2018 - 10:48am

RED DEER – An advocacy group says tax reform and a provincial sales tax are needed in order for Alberta to provide more stable funding for public services.

Public Interest Alberta hosted a public discussion Tuesday night at RDC for its Revenue Reno campaign, aimed at stimulating a conversation in the province about the government’s revenue shortage and the quality of public services.

The group says Alberta needs 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.”

Public Interest Alberta says relying heavily on revenue from non-renewable resources is simply not a sustainable or desirable way of doing business moving 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.”

Red Deer Public Schools Trustee Dianne Macaulay was among those who spoke at Tuesday’s session about why solving the revenue shortage is necessary to protect and revitalize public services.

“School boards work hard to put every dollar back into the classroom,” she said. “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.”

Darnel T. Forro, a Social Work Instructor at Red Deer College, shared similar thoughts.

“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.”

Trudy Thomson, Vice-President, Health Sciences Association of Alberta, said, “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.”

More on the Public Interest Alberta campaign can be found at www.RevenueReno.ca.

(with file from Public Interest Alberta media release)

Street sweeping underway in Red Deer

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