Alberta to Raise Taxes, Push Forward With Royalty Review

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Alberta’s new left-of-center government will push ahead with a tax increase for corporations and high-income earners before the Legislature’s summer recess, Premier Rachel Notley said.

Her New Democratic Party government will also move quickly on a review of oil royalties and will “listen” to the findings if it indicates that it’s not a good time to raise the rates producers pay in the current price environment, Notley said. She expects to diclose how the review will proceed by the end of summer. As for a bill on income tax, Notley plans to abolish a flat rate, following up on a promise made during the election last month.

“This bill will ask those who have benefited the most from the boom times in Alberta to now contribute a little more,” Notley said in a briefing before the speech that was delivered by Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell.

The NDP ended a four-decade long Progressive Conservative dynasty by winning a majority of districts in the election. During the campaign, Notley also promised a review of the government’s take of energy revenue, a faster phase-out of coal power and an increase in the number of hospital beds in the province.

Notley has said the government doesn’t want to implement any policies or budget cuts that would trigger a recession. A slumping price of oil and job cuts in Alberta’s most-important industry mean the province will fall into a recession this year as output contracts 1.5 percent, the Conference Board of Canada said in May.

Lowest Tax

Alberta will still have the lowest provincial tax rate in Canada, Notley said, even as corporate taxes will rise to 12 percent from 10 percent now. According to the party’s election platform, higher income tax will kick in for those earning C$125,000, at 12 percent compared with 10 percent now. Rates will peak at 15 percent for people making more than C$300,000 annually.

The government is failing to provide certainty for Albertans who are worried about their jobs, said Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean, who heads the opposition to Notley’s government in the Legislature. His party will vote against any tax increase, he said in a briefing before the speech.

Albertans “want the government to provide a predictable future,” he said during a briefing before the speech. “That would be important to do now rather than later.”

The government is also introducing a supply bill to allow funding for social services ahead of a budget in the fall that will be crafted “line-by-line,” the Premier said.

As part of the shortened legislative period before the summer recess, Notley will form a committee composed of both opposition and government members to review elections, whistle-blower and conflict of interest legislation, she said.

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