Alberta Votes

NDP platform promises to reverse cuts, raise corporate taxes

New long-term care beds, a tuition freeze and new restrictions on political donations are all included in a wide-ranging new platform released by Rachel Notley.

New Democrats promise to ban corporate/union donations to parties, pledges no sales tax

Rachel Notley said an NDP government would introduce a new tax credit to encourage small businesses to hire new workers. (CBC)

Alberta's NDP is promising to reverse spending cuts to health care and education while still balancing the province's budget in three years, according to leader Rachel Notley.

The promises, outlined in the party's platform released Sunday afternoon, will be paid for largely by reintroducing progressive income taxes and increasing the corporate tax rate.

"All three major parties running in this election agree we should balance the budget in 2017," Notley said Sunday. 

"And we all agree this needs to be achieved by changing something. Where we don't agree is on what needs to be changed."

Earlier this week, Wildrose leader Brian Jean said his party would balance the budget by 2017 without tax increases, instead cutting thousands of civil servant jobs and deferring non-necessary infrastructure projects.

Notley has previously said her party would roll back health care cuts made in the Tories' last budget, as well as open 600,000 sq. feet of "empty" hospital space to patients.

Sunday's NDP announcement promised an additional 2,000 long-term care beds over the next four years and a 20-per-cent hike in the province's mental health budget. The party said it would scrap the Tories' plan to impose a  health care levy on people with incomes over $50,000 annually.

The platform also pledges to freeze post-secondary tuition and cut school fees. The plan provides $75 million annually for the next four years to reduce classroom sizes in the province. 

'Careful review' of royalty rates

Notley accused the Tories of having "squandered Alberta's resource wealth" and promised to rely less on exporting raw resources.

The party's plan suggests a "careful review" of royalty rates and tax incentives for the energy resource industry. It says changes will be made to promote more processing and upgrading within the province. Any additional money raised from higher royalty rates would be redirected to the province's Heritage Fund. 

The NDP would also introduce an $89-million "job creation" tax credit that would offer rebates for small businesses who hire new workers. 

Despite the increased spending, Notley said the NDP would not introduce a sales tax. Instead, she proposed to pay for the promises by introducing a progressive income tax and increasing tax rates on those making more than $125,000. The party would also bump up Alberta's corporate tax rate to 12 per cent, similar to tax rates in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Between the higher tax rates and better collection, the NDP estimates it can raise more than $800 million in 2015-2016. 

"I say ending give-aways to those who need them least and that asking people and corporations to contribute based on their ability to pay is the right thing to do," she said. 

Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice has repeatedly refused to consider raising corporate taxes, arguing that it would lead to businesses leaving the province and large-scale job losses. Notley disagrees, insisting under her plan Alberta would remain an "attractive place" for business. 

The platform also includes a ban on corporate and union donations to political parties.