Alberta’s budget documents show that our tax system is grossly inferior to that of every other province in the country at raising revenue. Applying the tax system of any other province to Alberta would raise us a minimum of $11.2 billion in additional annual revenue, more than covering the projected $8.8-billion deficit in this year’s budget.

Protecting our public services from cuts is perhaps the most important reason to fix our tax system, but there are also other good reasons to do so. Universal pharmaceutical coverage could become part of our public health-care system and would actually be a net saving for Albertans while improving the health of our population. Classroom sizes in our schools have gradually increased over time, so fixing our revenue shortage and hiring more teachers would improve the student-teacher ratio to provide higher quality education for Alberta’s children.

The speaker will argue that reliance on non-renewable resource revenues and the present tax regime is unsustainable. There are two clear paths in front of us and Albertans will need to choose one sooner or later. One path is massive cuts to our public services, meaning big drops in the quality and accessibility of our health-care and education systems. Alternatively, our tax system can be renovated to raise significantly more revenue by implementing a sales tax and making changes to our personal income tax system.

Speaker: Joel French

Joel is the Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta, a position he has held since 2015. He previously served as the organization’s Communications Coordinator and has also served in staff positions with Friends of Medicare and former Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason. He has a degree in Middle Eastern and African Studies and Religious Studies from the University of Alberta and a diploma in Computer Systems Technology from Lakeland College.

He has worked on election campaigns at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels for progressive candidates. He also currently serves in positions that help guide the work of the Parkland Institute, the Next Up youth leadership program, and the Alberta Green Economy Network.

Moderator: Shannan Little

Date: Thursday, September 20, 2018 Time: Doors open 11:30 am, Presentation 12 noon, buffet lunch 12:30 pm, Q&A 1 – 1:30 pm Location: Royal Canadian Legion (north door) 324 Mayor Magrath Dr. S. Lethbridge Cost: $14 buffet lunch with desert & coffee/tea/juice or $2 coffee/tea/juice. RSVP not required

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