EDMONTON – Ever wonder why Alberta, Canada's wealthiest province, is running a $3-billion deficit and saying it can't afford to maintain middle-of-the-road spending on vital public services?
That's the question that a coalition of labour and community groups want Albertans to start asking in the run-up to the next provincial election, expected to be called within the next two months.
"Why in a province as wealthy as Alberta is the talk always about cuts and freezes to things that Albertans value, like education and health care," asks Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL).
"The truth is the only reason our government is running deficits and talking about cutbacks is because they've blown a hole in the revenue base we need to fund services. The cupboard is bare because Alberta's irresponsibly low royalty and corporate tax rates have made it bare."
In an effort to highlight the unnecessary damage caused by years of tax and royalty giveaways, the AFL has teamed up with Public Interest Alberta (PIA), a network of community groups and activists, to launch an advocacy campaign on tax and royalty reform called the Better Way Alberta campaign (click here for Backgrounder).
"Albertans are being told they have no choice but to accept cuts to things like post-secondary education and various services for the disadvantaged or expand public health services to our growing seniors population" says PIA Executive Director Bill Moore-Kilgannon.
"But the truth is we DO have choices. By re-establishing a progressive tax and improving our royalty rates, we could generate the money we need to maintain the kind of high-quality services that Albertans need to face the future with confidence."
"What we're trying to do in Alberta is what President Barack Obama is doing in the U.S.," concludes McGowan. "And that is to make the upcoming election campaign a forum for a discussion on tax and royalty fairness."
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For more information:
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour (780) 218-9888
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Director, Public Interest Alberta (780) 993-3736