Alberta finance minister says diversifying revenues is a long-term ‘luxury’

CALGARY — Alberta’s finance minister says the province will have the luxury of diversifying its revenues once its budget is balanced.

Travis Toews told a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon that the government should look at ways to become less dependent on volatile oil and natural gas royalties in the long term.

But he says the United Conservative government’s priority right now is to eliminate the deficit by cutting spending and not raising taxes.

Toews made his remarks a day after tabling a budget that aims to reduce overall program spending by 2.8 per cent over four years and other measures to balance the books by 2023.

The Kenney government’s inaugural budget calls for scrapping tax incentives brought in by the NDP that were aimed at diversifying the economy toward tech and other sectors.

Toews says the most effective way to get Alberta’s economic engine firing again is to make the overall business climate friendlier with lower corporate taxes.

The provincial corporate tax rate is to fall from 12 per cent to eight per cent by 2022.

“We’re taking the approach to broadly improve our competitiveness and business environment,” Toews said Friday.

“We believe that is the most defensible approach to ensure that capital flows in the right places, that we diversify and grow our economy in a sustainable way, that government isn’t picking winners and losers.”

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley blasted the government for giving tax breaks to big corporations while squeezing post-secondary students and people living with disabilities.

She said the approach is not the way to get off the “royalty revenue roller coaster.”

“You don’t diversify the economy by shutting the doors of our post-secondary institutions, making major cuts in the quality of the education people receive at the same time that you significantly increase the cost to students of walking through the doors of those post-secondary institutions,” she said in Calgary.

“And of course, in addition to that, they’ve cut a number of programs that our government had in place that were focused on economic diversification.”

Calgary Chamber of Commerce CEO Sandip Lalli said she’s glad the provincial government has a plan to balance the budget, but she wants to know how it plans to diversify its mix of revenue with the help of innovation.

“Within this plan that’s been tabled, they’re not ready to do that,” she said. “But I would really hope that they still continue to have conversations of ‘how do we move that forward.”’

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Real estate sales bouncing back

Last month was the best August in four years

No world junior hockey championship for Red Deer this winter, but it’s returning in 2022

Organizers say the event will return to Edmonton and Red Deer — with the hope of having fans — in 2022

Most Red Deer property taxes have already been paid — the rest are due by Sept. 30

‘I’m cautiously optimistic,’ says city tax controller

Social media encounter leads to Ponoka RCMP laying robbery, kidnapping charges

Slave Lake victim was lured to Central Alberta, then robbed

Notley to stay on as Alberta NDP leader for 2023 provincial election

The NDP took almost all of Edmonton but few seats outside of the city

Cirelli scores in OT, Lighting beat Isles to reach Cup Final

Cirelli scores in OT, Lighting beat Isles to reach Cup Final

Yanks hit 5 HR in inning, top Toronto 10-7 for 8-game streak

Yanks hit 5 HR in inning, top Toronto 10-7 for 8-game streak

After US Open run, Shapovalov piling up more wins in Rome

After US Open run, Shapovalov piling up more wins in Rome

Brady focused on Panthers, not subpar opening performance

Brady focused on Panthers, not subpar opening performance

Canada’s Murray plans to stay politically active through NBA Western final

Canada’s Murray plans to stay politically active through NBA Western final

A rough start and the search continues for Jordan Spieth

A rough start and the search continues for Jordan Spieth

Thomas takes US Open lead with 65 on soft, kind Winged Foot

Thomas takes US Open lead with 65 on soft, kind Winged Foot

Comeback Heat do it again, rally past Celtics for 2-0 lead

Comeback Heat do it again, rally past Celtics for 2-0 lead

Most Read