Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci on provincial sales tax: ‘That’s not on’

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WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the province's economy is improving, but Alberta remains on track to rack up a $10.3-billion deficit this year – Nov 29, 2017

Despite a suggestion made in the most recent credit rating downgrade for the province of Alberta that there is room for the government to consider more taxation tools, Finance Minister Joe Ceci told reporters Thursday he has no intention of implementing a provincial sales tax.

“The idea of fiscal room did come up and we talked about that a little bit,” Ceci said of his conversation with economists on Thursday.

“Politics took precedence in this discussion, because that’s not on for Alberta.”

On Wednesday, DBRS Limited downgraded Alberta’s issuer rating and long-term debt rating to AA from AA (high), noting a negative trend. The agency made a point of saying Alberta had the lowest tax burden of all provinces in Canada.

READ MORE: Alberta’s credit rating downgraded by DBRS: ‘all trends negative’

Ceci was unequivocal in downplaying any notion of a provincial sales tax. He said while the idea has support among economists, it’s not something he feels Albertans would be in favour of.

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“I’d say more often [when] I hear from Albertans, they say that’s not something they believe is necessary.”

Rather than implement a sales tax, Ceci said the Notley government would be looking to continue its belt-tightening in advance of the 2018 budget.

“We are going forward looking at the available resources we have and revenues we have, and we’re looking at the spending side more specifically, to bring our budget back into balance,” Ceci said. “That’s the focus for this government.”

READ MORE: Alberta still facing $10.3B deficit, but signs point to rising economy

Alberta is one of four jurisdictions in Canada – along with Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon – without a provincial sales tax or equivalent.

New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island all have harmonized their provincial sales with the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST), where a portion of the money is remitted to the province.

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