Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley Shuts Door on Any Talk of a Provincial Sales Tax

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley Shuts Door on Any Talk of a Provincial Sales Tax

Article excerpt

Premier says Alberta won't bring in PST

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EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is shutting down suggestions her spend-heavy budget may ultimately trigger a sales tax to pay for it all.

Notley told the house during question period Wednesday that no sales tax or harmonized tax will be created on her watch.

"That budget nor any other budget in the term of this government will not and does not include a PST," said Notley.

The budget presented by Finance Minister Joe Ceci uses low interest rates and a downturn in the economy to ramp up construction and refurbishment of roads, schools and hospitals.

It projects $34 billion in capital spending over the next five years and $47 billion in total debt by 2020.

The government intends to keep hiring to a minimum, but doesn't plan to drastically reduce staffing levels in key areas such as health and education.

The result is a budget that forecasts multibillion-dollar deficits for the next four years, including $6.1 billion in the current fiscal year, which ends March 31.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean told Notley the borrowing could trigger a cut in the province's AAA credit rating, leading to higher interest rates and even more red ink.

"This budget has too much debt and no plan to pay it back," Jean told the house. "Why is the premier risking the future well-being of Albertans with this budget?"

Notley noted the government will pass a bill this session to head off downgrades by limiting debt to 15 per cent of the province's nominal gross domestic product. She said the current ratio is about six per cent of GDP. …

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