National Post readers answer the question, “Should Alberta institute a sales tax to balance its books?”
The easy way out
The Alberta government needs to do a better job of properly allocating the money it has, rather than looking to take on new sources of revenue. Increasing the amount of money the government takes in is the easy way out which, in hindsight, might prove to be not the best option.
David W. Lincoln, Edmonton.
Oil flowed like water
Alberta’s political leaders have failed. No saving for a rainy day; they couldn’t separate the wheat from the chaff. Oil flowed like water, OPEC refused to cut production, prices tanked and Keystone XL expansion seems stalled for years. Saudi Arabia’s plan to hurt foreign producers is long-term. Markets will have to rebalance themselves. Of Course, Alberta will have no option but to replenish its coffers with a tax hike paid for by their voters.
Madeleine Wannop Ross Salter, Stoney Creek, Ont.
Dead Heritage Fund
If Alberta can export refined oil instead of crude oil, it shouldn’t need a sales tax. If it can’t, the province will have to join the rest of us in the sales tax club. Incidentally, what happened to Alberta’s Heritage Fund that we used to hear so much about?
William Bedford, Newmarket, Ont.
A spending addiction
No way should Alberta implement a sales tax. If a PST were the answer, then every other province would be in the black. The revenue from a sales tax would be collected and then spent by politicians out to buy votes with taxpayer money. Economists know this, but they still tout it as the best choice for balancing the books. Alberta doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending addiction.
Keith Beaudoin, Legal, Alta.
The idea that Alberta should implement a sales tax to cover budget shortfalls is an outrage. After 43 years of progress, we find ourselves unable to pay our bills. This, despite having revenue unheard of in any jurisdiction in the country. The Conservatives have been reckless and poor fiscal managers. Spending must be reined in.
Keith Brady, Empress, Alta.
Austerity measures needed
What kind of distorted thinking leads one to believe that the best way to balance the budget is to force your neighbours to give you money? Any responsible family budgeter or private business owner would cut expenses — even if it is painful to do so — because the long-term consequences of allowing spending to remain is much more hazardous. In government, however, there are no long-term consequences because budget problems get passed on from one generation of politicians to the next. Balancing government budgets, in Alberta or anywhere else in Canada, must only be done using austerity measures.
Gene Balfour, Thornhill, Ont.
Blame the unions
The most important fiscal priority in Alberta is to eliminate the tyranny of public sector unions, including teachers unions. There is no reason why public sector employees should have the power to demand conditions of their employment at the expense of working Albertans who pay their salaries and finance their benefits. Our elected representatives must be totally responsible and held accountable in terms of determining the conditions of public sector employment. There should be no collective bargaining or negotiating; the individual employee must be free to accept offered conditions, or to seek employment elsewhere. Public sector unions violate the true rights and freedoms of both sides.
Iain G. Foulds, Spruce Grove, Alta.
A temporary tax
Yes, Alberta should implement a sales tax. This would bring Albertans to the same level as other Canadians. But the sales tax should have an expiry date, just like food.
Herbert Hess, Toronto.
Where’s the ‘Advantage’?
Alberta for years touted the “Alberta Advantage,” which it used to lure many businesses and Canadians to this province. I see no advantage if taxation creates a province that taxes its citizens in the same manner as every other place in Canada. I have the ability to move and live in another province, and with no advantage for my family here, we will be looking to move to another province with a milder climate and longer summers. Using less natural gas to heat the home and electricity will just be an added bonus.
Wade Pearson, Calgary.
A comprehensive review
I fully support the implementation of a sales tax as part of a comprehensive review of Alberta’s tax policies and its treatment of royalty revenues. It is completely unacceptable that staffing levels in hospitals and construction schedules for schools are contingent on the vicissitudes of the international oil market. The government requires stable, predictable revenue sources to deliver the services the public demands, and a sales tax is a critical component in addressing that need.
Jonathan Skrimshire, Pincher Creek, Alta.
Protect individual rights
No, Alberta should not institute a sales tax. Instead, it should cut illegitimate spending and recognize that the proper function of government is to protect individual rights. Stop sacrificing Albertans to the anti-industrial, anti-human ideology of environmentalism. Reduce stifling red tape. Privatize education and health care to reduce costs and improve services.
Glenn Woiceshyn, Calgary.
Cut government wages
Instead of a sales tax, we should look to a 10% cut in all government employee wages and a careful review of all government-funded projects. If this isn’t enough, then we should cut until it is. If a sales tax is imposed, all the government needs to do is tweak it higher if they want more cash. Responsible citizens elected these people because they showed promise;let’s say “no” to a sales tax and show we have faith in our leaders by giving them a chance to make the tough decisions to manage our economy.
Barbara Blacklaw, St. Albert, Alta.
Encouraging bad practices
The short answer is no, Alberta should not implement a sales tax. When a political party has been in power too long, they begin to forget that they were put in that position to serve the public, not the other way around. The Alberta Conservatives have been in power too long. They have overspent on programs with no regard for rainy days, which should not have been a surprise considering oil-pricing history. And now they expect the Alberta taxpayer to pay for their poor decisions with a sales tax? This will only encourage their bad management practices. Once implemented, a sales tax will be like the War Income Tax Act of 1917: never-ending.
Florence Nelson Smith, Red Deer, Alta.