Alberta finance minister says diversifying revenues is a long-term ‘luxury’

Travis Toews said government should be less dependent on oil, natural gas royalties

Finance Minister Travis Toews, left, delivers the provincial budget as Alberta Premier Jason Kenney looks on, in Edmonton, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (JASON FRANSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Alberta’s finance minister says the province will have the luxury of diversifying its revenues once its budget is balanced.

Travis Toews told a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon that the government should look at ways to become less dependent on volatile oil and natural gas royalties in the long term.

But he says the United Conservative government’s priority right now is to eliminate the deficit by cutting spending and not raising taxes.

Toews made his remarks a day after tabling a budget that aims to reduce overall program spending by 2.8 per cent over four years and other measures to balance the books by 2023.

The Kenney government’s inaugural budget calls for scrapping tax incentives brought in by the NDP that were aimed at diversifying the economy toward tech and other sectors.

Toews says the most effective way to get Alberta’s economic engine firing again is to make the overall business climate friendlier with lower corporate taxes.

The provincial corporate tax rate is to fall from 12 per cent to eight per cent by 2022.

“We’re taking the approach to broadly improve our competitiveness and business environment,” Toews said Friday.

“We believe that is the most defensible approach to ensure that capital flows in the right places, that we diversify and grow our economy in a sustainable way, that government isn’t picking winners and losers.”

READ MORE: Alberta finance minister says first budget to attack spending, not services

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley blasted the government for giving tax breaks to big corporations while squeezing post-secondary students and people living with disabilities.

She said the approach is not the way to get off the “royalty revenue roller coaster.”

“You don’t diversify the economy by shutting the doors of our post-secondary institutions, making major cuts in the quality of the education people receive at the same time that you significantly increase the cost to students of walking through the doors of those post-secondary institutions,” she said in Calgary.

“And of course, in addition to that, they’ve cut a number of programs that our government had in place that were focused on economic diversification.”

Calgary Chamber of Commerce CEO Sandip Lalli said she’s glad the provincial government has a plan to balance the budget, but she wants to know how it plans to diversify its mix of revenue with the help of innovation.

“Within this plan that’s been tabled, they’re not ready to do that,” she said. ”But I would really hope that they still continue to have conversations of ‘how do we move that forward.’”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Sylvan Lake students honour past and present soldiers at Remembrance Day services

Schools in Sylvan Lake took part in their Remembrance Day services the morning of Nov. 7

Food for Fines program returns to Sylvan Lake

The Sylvan Lake Municipal Library is forgiving fines in exchange for non-perishable food donations

PHOTO: Sylvan Lake students scare away hunger

Students at Ecole Steffie Woima Elementary School collected over 1,000 lbs of food for the food bank

PHOTO: Sylvan Lake students collect socks for the homeless

Ecole Mother Teresa Catholic School students crushed their goal of collecting 200 pairs of socks

PHOTOS: Sylvan Lake students ensure No Stone is Left Alone

No Stone Left Alone was launched in 2011 by Maureen G. Bianchini-Purvis

VIDEO: Hong Kong police shoot protester, man set on fire

It was the second protester shot since the demonstrations began in early June

Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

Don Cherry had said immigrants don’t wear poppies like other Canadians do

Trudeau’s new cabinet: Gender parity because it’s 2019? Or due to competence?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon appoint his new cabinet

Canada among three G20 countries least likely to hit emissions targets

It says Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest off

Conservatives’ Scheer wants Trudeau to open Parliament Nov. 25

That’s five days after Justin Trudeau is scheduled to swear in a new cabinet

Canadians mark Remembrance Day this morning

This year exactly 101 years to the day after the end of the First World War

Zombie debt will haunt more Canadians as scourge of indebtedness rises: experts

Total debt per consumer has surged to $71,979 in the second quarter

Harvest a struggle in Alberta, Saskatchewan, but a miracle in Manitoba

Hail over the summer destroyed most of the corn crop in southeastern Alberta

Sportsnet apologizes for Don Cherry’s anti-immigrant comments

Outrage was building online on Sunday with many on Twitter calling for Cherry to be fired

Most Read