TORONTO — Alberta Premier Alison Redford moved Wednesday to squelch any suggestion that her government might bring in a provincial sales tax after her finance minister merely mentioned the politically perilous issue a day earlier.
“We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve never had a provincial sales tax and we will never have a provincial sales tax,” Redford told reporters in Toronto, where she was giving a speech to the Economic Club of Canada.
In a speech Tuesday, Finance Minister Ron Liepert mentioned that a sales tax had come up in pre-budget consultations and needed to be discussed sooner or later.
The comment set off a storm of criticism on the Internet and in the media, while critics and opposition politicians painted the remark as a trial balloon.
The minister issued a statement Wednesday reaffirming his government’s no-PST position.
Liepert said he was talking about taxation in general and the rising costs for things such as health and education.
He noted that many participants in pre-budget meetings questioned why the province eliminated health-care premiums. Others suggested increasing income tax to offset health costs.
“We heard at every roundtable that participants wanted answers on how Alberta would pay for increasing costs of health care and education,” the statement read.
“Roundtable participants are asking government to spend wisely and be more efficient, including the delivery of health care and education. It will be these ideas that will be considered by the Alberta government caucus over the coming months, not a sales tax.”
Alberta is the only province without some form of PST. Several provinces have moved to harmonize their provincial sales taxes with the federal GST.