Sales tax still a no go for Tories

Progressive Conservatives have no appetite for a provincial sales tax, but the party supports reviving health care premiums.

Progressive Conservatives have no appetite for a provincial sales tax, but the party supports reviving health care premiums.

In a media session on Saturday afternoon, Red Deer’s MLAs Cal Dallas and Mary Anne Jablonski offered their insight into the party’s closed-door convention discussions.

Dallas, who is Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations said he was not surprised the sales tax was a no go.

“The premier and the government has been very clear on our position on a sales tax,” said Dallas, who like Jablonski, was not in on the discussion.

Dallas said the government is focused on spending within its means, such as the implementation of results-based budgeting.

“We’ve really made a strong commitment to Albertans that we are going to look at the way we deliver programs, the costs associated with those programs, and make sure that we’re delivering full value before we look at any revenue options.

“The premier has been clear about that, sales tax is not part of the discussion.”

Jablonski said party members voted a “resounding no” on the sales tax resolution.

On health care premiums, Dallas said Albertans were clear that they wanted the government to look at how it spends within existing budgets before searching for new revenue.

“Obviously, we’ll take that to caucus and have a discussion about the various perspectives the membership brought to that.

“That can be an important part of the dialogue we have,” said Dallas, reminding that party resolutions are not government policy.

But the government has clearly made a commitment to look at its budgeting before considering any new revenue streams, he added.

Health care premiums will not be part of the budget discussion for the next budget, he said.

Jablonski said if it comes to bringing back health care premiums it will be important to consult with Albertans first. Neither MLA participated in the premium discussions, they said.

Jablonski said the government continues to work on ways to prevent couples being separated because they need different levels of care in nursing homes.

She also reaffirmed her personal view that the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees’ suggestion that part of Michener Centre remain open has merit.

“The union has come with a proposal and I do think myself — and this is personally — that it is a fair proposal that we should look at.”

Associate minister of persons with disabilities Frank Oberle will consider the proposal, she said

Dallas said as a member of the government’s executive council he can’t comment on the Michener issue because it could prejudice an upcoming judicial review.