Tax hikes make tough times even harder

NDP policy is hitting Calgarians hard at a time our city can least afford it.

Our unemployment sits at more than eight per cent, the highest in decades. Home values across the city are dropping, and just last month, Alberta shed 40,000 full-time jobs across several industries.

Many Calgarians would agree that now is not the time to make things worse, but that’s just what the latest series of government policies is doing, on the backs of working families right across our city.

It starts around the kitchen table. With the average family seeing their wages go down, or possibly even facing unemployment, they are being forced to squeeze every penny out of their monthly budgets. That could mean pulling a child out of hockey for the next season, cutting out a family trip, or having to downgrade on some of the essentials.

And that’s before taking into account the series of new taxes families are being forced to pay. By January of next year, households will be paying more to heat their homes, drive their cars and pay for groceries because of the NDP’s new carbon tax.

By 2018, the full cost of this tax will take roughly $1,000 out of the typical Alberta household’s budget to pay for over $6 billion in new government spending and expensive corporate welfare projects.

Yes, Alberta should continue to be part of the solution in the effort to reduce global emissions: that’s why Wildrose has long advocated for natural gas and clean air strategies. But the fact is, Alberta is already a world leader in research and innovation in reducing emissions. The NDP government’s approach will only make it more difficult for Alberta to compete on a global stage.

In the private sector, companies perform risk assessments and cost-benefit analyses before any major investments or decisions are made. But Alberta’s new carbon tax bill fails to give Albertans any information on the full economic impact of the carbon tax, or any emissions reduction targets the government plans to achieve by spending the billions in new taxes that will be collected every year.

Under this plan, our local producers will see costs rise, small business owners will have less money for hiring and innovating, and our export sector will be increasingly less able to compete with other jurisdictions, such as Saskatchewan, which do not face the same regulatory burdens Alberta now does. That means fewer jobs for Calgarians at a time we badly need them.

Homeowners and businesses won’t just be feeling the pinch from a new carbon tax; today, Calgarians are seeing a massive jump in their property taxes as a direct result of the NDP government’s 10.2 per cent hike to the provincial share on everyone’s property tax bill.

Premier Rachel Notley will try and pin this excuse on a fixed funding formula based on new government spending, but the fact is, her NDP government had a choice, and they chose to raise the tax bills on families in one of the most difficult economic climates Alberta has faced in decades.

It was the wrong choice, and now city council is wrestling with the difficult decision to reduce services to help compensate for this massive provincial tax grab.

Taken together, these policies are proving a dangerous recipe for families and an economy that many feel is fragile enough already.

The direction our province is heading is the wrong one for Alberta. When families and business are hurting, they shouldn’t be seeing their taxes increase. Policies should be put forward to bring stability back to Alberta’s economy, encourage investment in our province and restore the Alberta Advantage.

These are the policies Albertans are asking for, these are the policies Wildrose has been asking for and it’s time Notley and her NDP government start to listen.