Edmonton

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley doesn't rule out future talks on PST

Premier Rachel Notley said Albertans will have to discuss the province’s tax regime at some point in the future, but not during her current term in office.

Premier asked why Alberta is so adverse to a tax that is standard in every other province

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      Premier Rachel Notley said Albertans will have to discuss the province's tax regime at some point in the future, but not during her current term in office.

      Notley made the remarks in response to an email question on a post-budget call-in Friday on CBC radio's Edmonton AM show.  

      With Alberta facing a $10.4-billion deficit in 2016, she was asked why the Alberta government is so averse to implementing a sales tax when it's standard practice in every other Canadian province.

      Notley said she doesn't want to backtrack on her campaign promise not to implement a sales tax 

      "I feel quite strongly that having said that, I should stick to it," she said.

      Notley said now is not the time to take money out of the economy when the province is suffering due to prolonged low oil prices

      However, she suggested Albertans should take a second look at sources of government revenues once this term is up.

      "In the long-term, is this a conversation we need to have? I think it is. But not right now."  

      Finance Minister Joe Ceci revealed during the unveiling of Thursday's provincial budget that the NDP government will borrow billions to finance daily operations and exceed its own legislated debt ceiling by 2019.

      In addition to the budget, Ceci introduced legislation to eliminate the 15 per cent debt-to-nominal-GDP limit introduced by the government and legislated five months ago.
      Premier Rachel Notley and finance minister Joe Ceci defended their budget during a call-in interview on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. 2:35
       During the call-in, Ceci and Notley also took questions about the government's new carbon tax and why Ceci chose not to raise taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and beer.

      Ceci said he already raised sin taxes in the October budget and felt that was enough for now.

      Notley also tackled a question about what would happen if the government tried to balance the budget instead of running a $10.4 billion deficit.  

      "That would have been taking $10 billion out or cutting roughly 20 per cent from government services," Notley said. "Not only would it have been disastrous in terms of the people that would have lost their jobs and the supports that would have disappeared, the level of unpredictability would have been just not helpful."

      Notley will be selling her budget to a business audience Friday afternoon through a state of the province address to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.