Albertans need to be taxed more so public services like education and health care can improve.
That was the message at Public Interest Alberta discussion on the provincial revenue shortage at Red Deer College Tuesday.
Albertans need to talk about raising tax revenue, said Joel French, executive director of Public Interest Alberta, a non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on education and advocacy on public interest issues.
“Right now our provincial government doesn’t raise enough tax revenue even to pay for the services we already provide as a province; that means our education system, our health care system, post secondary education … seniors’ care,” said French.
The event was a part of the organization’s Revenue Reno campaign, which aims to protect and revitalize public services in Alberta.
French said to raise tax revenue, the province could introduce a sales tax and make changes to the personal income tax system.
“If we don’t do those things … we’re going to see massive cuts to our education system and our health care system. There’s just no other way the province can go. It’s one or the other; we see big cuts or we raise more revenue,” he said.
French said the Revenue Reno campaign sets out to educate Albertans about this problem.
“If a political party is going to balance the budget, something both major parties are talking about, simply by cutting then what does that mean for our public services?” said French.
The only way politicians are going to make a decision on this is if the citizens understand the issues, he said.
“What are our classrooms going to look like five years from now if we balance the budget by making cuts? What are our hospital wait times going to look like?
“I know, particularly in Red Deer, you don’t want to see less hospital services,” he said.
Dianne Macauly, Red Deer Public Schools trustee, said having a more sustainable source of funding would help improve schools.
“If we had better funding we could allocate that money into making the buildings better for our students, our teachers and or community,” she said.
Macauly said the district received a zero increase in funding this year from the province.
“In reality a zero increase is a decrease because everything else increases,” she said.
Man killed in collision
near Three Hills
A 95-year-old man died in a two-vehicle collision near Three Hills Tuesday afternoon.
Three Hills RCMP were called to the intersection of Hwy 583 and Hwy 21 around 2:30 p.m. where a car with two people inside was struck by a semi-trailer truck.
The man driving was pronounced dead at the hospital and the 96-year-old female passenger was airlifted to a city hospital with serious injuries.
The driver of the truck was not injured.
Police say preliminary investigation suggests the car entered the intersection from Hwy 583 after the stop sign to make a left turn onto Hwy 21. It was then struck by the southbound truck.