Corporate tax increase off the table, says Alberta Premier Jim Prentice
'All of us have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs'
Premier Jim Prentice says Alberta has no plans of raising corporate taxes to deal with the current economic woes in the province.
- Jim Prentice will not raise corporate tax to compensate for low oil prices
- Alberta's budget shortfall: running the numbers
"Any economist you talk to would agree that in the circumstances that we are in, if we increase our corporate taxes, we will simply make ourselves uncompetitive and it will result in losing jobs," he told alberta@noon host Donna McElligott on Wednesday.
He was taking questions from residents across Alberta during the program. Some listeners responded on Twitter that they felt the premier was being evasive.
Many of those who called, tweeted or emailed their questions wanted to know his plans for digging Alberta out of the $7-billion revenue hole that opened up when oil prices dropped south of the $50 mark.
When asked whether he intends to cut health-care services, Prentice recited figures familiar to those who follow the issue in Alberta.
"Health-care spending has increased from $8 billion to $17 billion in less than 10 years — more than doubled. At the same time Alberta's population has only gone up by 25 per cent," he said.
"So there's going to have to be more efficient use of resources... in terms of health care."
Prentice repeatedly mentioned that public sector workers in Alberta earn more than the national average, and said the higher-than-average costs of services are unsustainable.
Prentice noted that he expects more pressure on the education system soon as the weak economy pushes more students to go to colleges and universities.
He said he is not planning any tuition increases at this time.
When asked about a provincial sales tax, Prentice said the people have spoken.
"Albertans hold their view about sales tax pretty close to their hearts — most don't want a sales tax. People in this province think that other things should be done first."
Several callers asked Prentice about increasing taxes for high-income earners.
"We all want to blame somebody for the circumstances that we're in, but the bottom line is we have had the highest cost and the best public services in the country, and we haven't built a revenue model that sustains them," he said.
"In terms of who is responsible, we all only need look in the mirror. All of us have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs."
Prentice said his government plans to introduce a budget and 10-year fiscal plan sometime during the session that resumes next week.