On May 5th, Albertans elected a new provincial government. NDP Leader Rachel Notley will lead the first NDP government in Alberta’s history. The Wildrose Party will form the Official Opposition while the Progressive Conservative Party has finished third in a historic defeat, ending 44 years as Alberta’s governing party.
RCC feels it is important for you to be fully aware of some of the implications that this change in government will have for the province’s retail sector. With the Alberta NDP’s election, some very significant changes will take place to Alberta’s taxation policy, economic policy, and labour relations environment.
The Alberta NDP has promised a number of initiatives that will increase costs for merchants and raise taxes on consumers. Of particular concern are the NDP’s promises to increase Alberta’s minimum wage and increase corporate taxes from 10% to 12%. These changes will increase the costs on retailers in a time of economic uncertainty in the province. The NDP’s pledge to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2018 abandons the established formula Alberta has used to determine previous minimum wage increases and goes against RCC’s position of linking minimum wage changes to CPI.
Also concerning is the promise to potentially allow municipalities the ability to introduce new forms of taxation. While the NDP has promised not to introduce a provincial sales tax, they have left the door open for other new taxes. This potentially could lead to a patchwork taxation framework, adding costs and administrative burden for retailers in the province.
Specifically, the Alberta NDP has promised to:
- Increase Alberta’s Minimum Wage to $15 by 2018.
- Eliminate the health care levy and replace the funding by raising both personal income taxes and corporate taxes
- Increase corporate taxes from 10% to 12%.
- New “high earner” tax brackets at:
- $125,000 – 150,000 = 12%
- $150,000 – 200,000 = 13%
- $200,000 – 300,000 = 14%
- $300,000 + = 15%
- Roll back user fees introduced in 2015 budget.
- Not introduce a provincial sales tax.
- Ban corporate and union donations to political parties (which will be accompanied by taxpayer funded subsidy per vote as per the Manitoba experience. The NDP will fund political activities through tax dollars instead).
- Introduce a Job Creation Tax Credit (which is offset by increased corporate taxes).
- Potentially look at granting municipalities the ability to introduce new taxes.
- Boost efforts to collect unpaid corporate taxes and increase the railway fuel tax.
- Regulate Alberta’s retail electricity to control electricity prices.
- Implement a tuition freeze for post-secondary schools in Alberta.
- Establish a Resource Owners Rights’ Commission to report on measures to promote Alberta’s energy resources and ensure a full and fair return to the people of Alberta.
- Implement a $5.4 Billion budget deficit their first year in office, and project to balance the provincial budget by 2019 but without indicating how this will be accomplished.
The NDP platform does not discuss or mention any detailed changes to Alberta’s labour legislation.
Retail Council of Canada will be contacting Premier-elect Notley and her newly elected team in the near future to provide them with the positions and priorities of Alberta’s retail sector. RCC will be updating members on details as the new government takes power in Alberta.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Lanny McInnes, Director - Government Relations (Prairies) at: [email protected] or 204-253-1654