Experts gather at economic summit in Calgary to hash out Alberta’s fiscal woes


CALGARY – Experts are debating the underlying reasons for Alberta’s current fiscal troubles.

Unsurprisingly, pipeline access came up as a major challenge, with oilsands crude unable to make it to markets that will pay a fair price — a problem Premier Alison Redford has called the “bitumen bubble.”

Economist Peter Tertzakian says Canada’s only customer, the U.S., can meet its own energy needs but buys Canadian crude anyway because it’s on sale.

Another speaker, Michael Holden of the Canada West Foundation, says Alberta shouldn’t be using oil and gas sales to fund today’s spending and that saving should be a priority.

He says the province shouldn’t be run like a farm — relying on a bumper crop one year only to have the whole crop destroyed by hail the next.

The day’s first panel session was briefly interrupted by Greenpeace protesters holding a banner reading “cut royalty breaks, not social programs.”

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Experts gather at economic summit in Calgary to hash out Alberta’s fiscal woes

  1. We should not create a separate PST. Doing so would require a new bureaucracy, more bureaucrats to administer it, and tens of millions of dollars per year in additional government spending. Plus provincial politicians would constantly be tempted to wreak havoc within the system by creating exemptions for special interest groups.

    Instead, add a few percent onto the GST, administered exactly as the current GST, applied to the same goods in the same way as the GST. That way businesses do not have to change anything but the rate in their financial software, and the administration of the tax would have zero marginal cost, since the expenses to supervise a 5% GST or a 7% GST or a 10% GST are identical, and already being covered by the federal government.

    An added provincial tranche to the GST would be pure and efficient revenue for the government, unsullied by overhead costs.

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