Reforming broken revenue system vital to Alberta’s fiscal future

Edmonton - The economic evidence is in and it shows overwhelmingly that Alberta's economy is still on shaky ground.

"Unstable commodity prices, a continuing jobs crisis, falling retail sales, increasing bankruptcies and more trouble in the U.S. paint a gloomy view of the stability of the provincial economy," says Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, which represents 140,000 workers.

"As we look at the government's fiscal update, it's clear that a big part of the reason why this province's recovery is weaker than other Canadian jurisdictions is that the Stelmach government refused to engage in stimulus spending to help cope with the recession. And yet our government is calling for federal stimulus spending to end so private industry can take over the reins of recovery," says Furlong.

"We have seen in Alberta what leaving the recovery to private industry brings - it brings a longer recession, a bigger jobs crisis, more cuts to vital public services - and unnecessary pain to Alberta's most vulnerable families and communities."

In July 2010, Alberta shed 13,000 full-time jobs in just a month. All employment gains in our province were due to part-time job growth, where we added 22,000 positions. In the last two years, Alberta dropped 53,300 full-time jobs and added 50,600 part-time jobs.

The problems of the faltering economy have been greatly compounded in Alberta because of the government's revenue system, which relies too heavily on volatile commodity prices. Albertans found it hard to understand why we came off a long and pronounced economic boom, only to be immediately thrown into crisis when commodity prices dipped, says Furlong.

"The time has come for a grown-up conversation on how to reform our broken revenue system and come off the horrific rollercoaster ride to which we have been subjected by the government. For example, we will give away $2 billion in corporate taxes this year to the U.S. government from U.S. corporations operating in Alberta. We have the lowest income taxes for the very wealthy, but the highest taxes in Canada for the lowest-income workers," says Furlong.

"Alberta must reform its taxation system to stabilize revenue, and it must devote resources towards building a sustainable economy for the future of all Albertans," she says.

See detailed fiscal update from the AFL.
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Media Contact: Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-720-8945

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