Lisa Joy, Editor, Stettler Independent/Castor Advance/Regional Weekender

Alberta Advantage is gone: Fraser Institute

New challenges ahead says ATB

During the Heartland Rally on Saturday to support the oil and gas industry, Drumheller – Stettler UCP candidate Nate Horner painted a grim picture of Alberta.

“We have lost $40 billion in the oil and gas industry since the ND’s got in. we have lost countless jobs. We know about the bankruptcies and the insolvencies. We lost 17,000 jobs in December. We know how dire things are.”

The Notley government’s carbon tax, the Trudeau government’s policies and the delays in the Trans Mountain pipeline have crippled Alberta’s economy.

Horner said we need to make Alberta competitive again.

“Five years ago Alberta was the number one most competitive combined tax jurisdiction in North America. Do you know what it is today? 50th, 50th out of 60. It’s no surprise $40 billion has left this industry.”

We don’t need experts to tell us that Albertans are hurting. All we have to do is look around us, at our neighbours, our friends and maybe even ourselves.

But, if you want to hear it from the “experts,” think-tank The Fraser Institute says the Alberta Advantage is gone under the NDP government. The Fraser Institute says many of the corporate and personal tax advantages we once had have almost completely vanished under the NDP government.

Ben Eisen, director of provincial prosperity studies of the Fraser Institute co-authored “The End of the Alberta Tax Advantage” in 2017. That report said Alberta had the lowest corporate tax rate in Canada in 2014. By 2016 Alberta had the same corporate tax rate as Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Alberta also used to have the lowest combined personal income tax rate in Canada before the NDP took power. The lower tax rates gave the province a competitive edge and helped drive our economic growth.

READ MORE: WATCH: Stettler’s Heartland Rally draws 250 people and more than 150 semis, vehicles. Sundre-Rocky Mountain House-Rimbey MLA speaks at rally

Fast forward to 2019.

Steve Lafleur and Ben Eisen from the Fraser Institute say the Alberta government must cut taxes to help restore our economy.

“Alberta’s recovery from the recent recession has been slow and, for many, painful,” said Lafleur and Eisen in January 2019. “More than four years after oil prices plummeted in late 2014, private-sector employment in the province still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession levels.”

To get the province back on track they assert that a single-rate personal income tax and matching corporate income tax rate of six per cent “would just about do the trick” and bring back Alberta’s tax advantage.

READ MORE: Oil and gas supporters plan Stettler rally. Focuses on ending carbon tax, no UN global compact for migration and building the pipelines

To offset the revenue loss, Lafleur and Eisen suggest the province eliminate exemptions and tax credits to reduce corporate welfare to businesses.

A recent insolvency survey by Meyers Norris Penny (MNP) revealed that about 31 per cent of Canadians say they don’t have enough money to pay their bills and make their debt payments.

The poll, released Jan. 21, shows that 46 per cent – almost half – of Canadians are $200 or less away from bankruptcy.

Ipsos conducted the quarterly poll for MNP and surveyed 2,154 Canadians online from Dec. 7 – 12. Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, the polling industry’s professional body, said online surveys cant be given a margin of error because they don’t randomly sample the population.

And it doesn’t look like the economy is improving any time soon.

EDITORIAL: Voters poised to oust NDP in 2019 spring provincial election. Latest poll shows 50 per cent voting for the UCP, 35 per cent for NDP

According to an ATB November 2018 report, the province is gradually making gains but faces new challenges because of the uncertainty over transporting oil and the risk of a global economic downturn.

No one could have imagined Alberta in such economic shambles it is now and we can only hope things will improve – soon.



lisa.joy@stettlerindependent.com

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