Here’s what the government’s very brief fiscal statement really means

Government fiscal updates in Alberta are usually heavy on statistics – the government presents facts and draws detailed conclusions about the state of the economy and the province’s finances.

Not this time.

This week, Finance Minister Travis Toews was light on facts, but heavy on threats to public services and jobs. The minister also insisted on following through with controversial tax breaks for already rich large corporations – even if they see those corporate gifts aren’t creating jobs for the rest of us.

Minister Toews at media conference: “We’re committed to delivering this corporate tax reduction … We’ll be interested to monitor the results but we will implement this plan regardless.”

What this really means: We’re going to continue throwing Albertans’ hard-earned money to our corporate chums even when we see it’s not creating jobs or boosting the economy.

Minister Toews in the Edmonton Journal: “Toews admitted that could mean the coffers lose out on corporate tax revenues for years to come …”

What this really means: The government is happy to see revenue fall because it provides the UCP with an excuse to lay off workers and slash public services, or hand them over to for-profit corporations.

Why all the secrecy?

The Edmonton Journal: “… the government didn’t provide any information on projections — not revenues, expenses, oil prices or even the provincial GDP.”

The Calgary Herald: “ … the four-page document was more of a pamphlet than a substantial progress report, with precious little economic analysis to reach any meaningful conclusion.”

Meanwhile, the report from the so-called blue-ribbon panel is being kept under wraps, away from the eyes of Albertans, economists and other experts who can evaluate what it says.

What this really means: The government is keeping Albertans in the dark because it knows the facts don’t support its ideology of cutting services, cutting jobs and cutting wages to pay for tax giveaways to big corporations already sitting on piles of cash.

We have already seen cuts to vital services for the disabled, the homeless, for small businesses in IT and elsewhere.

What’s that about privatizing?

The Calgary Herald: A handy little chart in the fiscal update illustrates the rapid rise in taxpayer-supported debt and liabilities tied to P3 deals (public-private-partnerships), with the red ink climbing to $80.8 billion by the end of March, up from just $10 billion a decade ago.

What this really means: It means that when the government hands over public services to for-profit operators, it costs Albertans more money, not less. Public-private partnerships (P3s) create debt, not savings.

Read the full Calgary Herald story here and the Edmonton Journal report here.

Want to call on all Alberta politicians to listen to the facts and to Albertans who demand that these irresponsible corporate tax cuts be reversed? Click here to find your MLA contact information.