Funding drop (letter to the editor)

Re: "Assuring Alberta's prosperity," Mark Milke, Opinion, March 25.

Mark Milke disputes Alberta Federation of Labour attacks on the province's funding of health care and education by situating Alberta's per capita funding in the context of national averages. Since Alberta is above the national aver-age for spending on both counts, he concludes that AFL complaints are unwarranted. This is dubious logic, since the national average itself is dramatically below what it should be.

Alberta is simply the best of a very bad lot.

Nationwide we have witnessed a dramatic concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few over the past two decades, not, as Milke wants us to believe, a great increase in the funding of public services. A 2011 study from the OECD showed Canada's wage gap between rich and poor at a record high, well above the 34-country average. Since the 1990s, the report says, the "redistributive effect" of Canada's taxation system has declined, and the wages of the richest 0.1 per cent have more than doubled.

The most unequal province in Canada is British Columbia; Alberta ranks third.

The corporate tax rate in Canada was 40 per cent in the boom period of the postwar era, and 40 years later, it is 15 per cent.

The oil and gas royalty rates in Alberta are unquestionably low. Last week, the Parkland Institute published a study in which it estimates the government of Alberta will forgo $55 billion in revenues over the next three years because of overly generous royalty cuts.

In other words, public services are being starved across Canada, while the rich are getting much richer; in Alberta, this is doubly so, since the province has a booming industry that could provide more tax revenues, instead of funnelling profits to already-rich multinational energy corporations.

Michael Truscello, Calgary

Calgary Herald, Sun Mar 27 2012

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