Calgary

'Jason Kenney's plan is reckless,' says Rachel Notley on UCP corporate tax cut pledge

The leader of the NDP was in Calgary on Tuesday to poke holes in her main rival’s plan to slash the corporate tax rate in Alberta.

Alberta Party pitches oil-by-rail to Alaska, Liberals propose boost in mental health spending

NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the corporate tax cut promised by the UCP would blow a big hole in the provincial budget. (CBC)

The leader of the NDP was in Calgary on Tuesday to poke holes in her main rival's plan to slash the corporate tax rate in Alberta.

Rachel Notley held a press conference to argue that the UCP pledge to cut the business tax rate from 12 per cent down to eight per cent by 2022 would cost $2.36 billion over four years.

"The corporate tax cut equals big fat zeros for … a tax cut that he claims will create 55,000 jobs. You might think it would register at least the slightest bit on the revenue Richter scale. But it doesn't. Not even a tremor. And the fact that it doesn't do that is only the first problem with this plan," she said.

Notley says that forgone revenue is enough to fund two major new hospitals or 224 new elementary schools.

UPC Leader Jason Kenney claims his "Job Creation Tax Cut" will actually result in slight revenue growth over four years, pulling the government's deficit up from $7.38 billion in 2019-20 to an estimated $714 million surplus in 2022-23.

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Notley claims the UCP's numbers don't add up.

"Jason Kenney's plan is reckless, and it explains why he also refuses to fund the 15,000 additional kids we know will walk into our classrooms next year," said Notley.

"His plan will leave the patients in our hospitals with less and our aging loved ones with less. With a growing population, this amounts to a major cut to the services Albertans depend on."

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Notley also says Kenney needs to account for lost revenue in his budget platform, since he would cancel the government's plan to get more oil to market by leasing railcars.

Kenney has said the $3.7-billion lease deal over three years doesn't make financial sense.

Provincial officials say the program will result in $5.9 billion in revenues over the same period.

But Kenney argues the government will make rail shipments more expensive for the private sector and shift risk onto the taxpayer. Kenney said Notley is adding to the province's debt by financing a plan that will have little effect on oil shipments.

Alberta Party pitches oil-by-rail to Alaska

The leader of the Alberta Party was also in Calgary on Tuesday.

Stephen Mandel unveiled a plan to get Alberta energy products coastal access. It involves bypassing B.C., where there's such staunch opposition to resource transportation, and going up through Alaska, instead.

Mandel says this could be done by securing right-of-way and approvals for a Fort McMurray-to-Alaska railway — and possibly even a pipeline further down the road.

The railway would carry a million barrels a day of oil to the established tidewater Port of Valdez, Mandel said.

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"We think the time has come to look at opening up the North," he said, adding that two private companies are exploring the idea. "We need to have options."

The Alberta Party says it would establish an Indigenous-led consortium to secure the necessary approvals.

The party pegs construction costs at $15 billion.

Liberals promise mental health boost

Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan announced his plan Tuesday to boost mental health and addictions funding by 50 per cent.

"We will invest more than $600 million to give Albertans the care they need. We will walk the talk on one of the most important issues facing all Alberta," he said in a release.

"We know tens of thousands of Albertans do not have adequate mental health care. This is significantly damaging our economy, creating huge downstream health-care costs, increasing crime and straining our justice system."

Khan said the Liberals would also declare the opioid crisis a public health state-of-emergency, provide free suboxone and addictions counselling, and expand the number of supervised injection sites.

With files from The Canadian Press

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