New book shows Alberta wealth is going to corporate profits, not public services
How is it that a province as wealthy as Alberta is running deficits and says it must cut public services? Where is Alberta's huge wealth really going?
Those are two of the central questions that author Kevin Taft attempts to answer in a hard-hitting, fact-filled new book called "Follow the Money," released today in Edmonton. Taft is a best-selling author and former leader of the Alberta Liberal Party.
The book exposes the "big lie" that spending on public services in Canada's richest province is out of control and that Alberta can no longer afford to fund things like education and health care at current levels. Oil is selling at $100/barrel, Alberta's economy is booming, and still the government is cutting services and running deficits.
"Alberta's energy resources are creating wealth on a scale and at a pace that is unprecedented in Canadian history," says Taft. "Those resources are publicly owned, but most of the wealth from them is being scooped off the table in the form of unprecedented profits for corporations. Money that is based on the development of public resources and that could be used to fund things that Albertans and Canadians value is, instead, being siphoned off to private investors. It's not public spending that is disproportionately high in Alberta, it is profits."
"This matters for all of Canada," adds Taft. "The Alberta government is only getting crumbs from the table compared to the scale of wealth being created. But those crumbs have been used to keep taxes so low that even Alberta can't afford to balance its books and pay for services any more. Unfortunately, Alberta's unsustainably low taxes put pressure on other provinces to follow, fuelling deficits and driving service cuts right across Canada. It is a race to the bottom that no government in Canada can win, or even sustain. And the losers in this race are clearly ordinary Canadians who are being told they have to accept less from the services which they value and need."
Taft's book, co-researched by economists Mel McMillan and Junaid Jahangir, was written independently. Publication was sponsored by the Alberta Federation of Labour and Public Interest Alberta as part of a campaign to start a public discussion about taxes and royalties in Alberta.
A short documentary film, produced by award-winning film-maker Tom Radford, has also been produced as a companion to the book.
Taft will be stepping down as a MLA this spring when an election is expected to be called.
"This isn't about politics, it's not even about the election," says Taft. "It's about showing Albertans that they're not getting their fair share of the wealth being created from the resources they own. And it's about drawing attention to public policies that are hurting Albertans and, indeed, all Canadians."
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For more information:
Kevin Taft, MLA-Edmonton Riverview (780-720-4479)
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 218-9888
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Director, Public Interest Alberta (780) 993-3736