Editorial: Gas tax freeze is a pill wrapped in cheese

Morinville Online Editorial

Have you ever wrapped a piece of cheese around a pill and tricked your dog into eating it?

Freezing the provincial gas tax is the cheese. The pill is all the unpleasant things the government makes you swallow without knowing it.

The Romans called it Panem et Circenses (bread and circuses). In short, superficial appeasement to the discontent citizens.

To be sure, it is as painful at the pump as it is at the grocery store these days, and we can all welcome a 13 cent cut on gas prices, particularly when the feds will add another two cents a litre to the federal carbon tax.

But provincially, we are looking at a 1.5% increase in education taxes, which we’ll all have to pay on our tax bills, although the towns, cities, and counties will have to pass that on. 

Our post-secondary children pay higher fees – the highest increase in the country two years running – which will affect many families helping their children with those costs. 

The province cut monies previously given to municipalities for capital investments like roads and sewers by 60 per cent for the next two years. This funding cut will leave municipalities to either cut or defer work to keep taxes low or raise taxes to maintain service levels.

At the same time, changes to what the province charges municipalities who borrow for capital projects are increasing somewhere between 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent. Municipalities will pass this on to residents and businesses in small towns and big cities who borrow for projects. 

But seldom do we hear much about these things from media and even more rarely on social media, where the memes tell us what to think through funny pictures and bold text. 

These recent cuts and downloads are on top of previous downloads, including rural policing, which left small towns and counties scrambling for dollars or raising taxes.

These recent cuts are on top of previous cap removals on heating and insurance, both of which have hit Albertan’s pocketbooks hard, and on top of not tying income tax to inflation. The latter results in bracket creep, which means you pay more tax without them raising the tax rate.

While the price of West Texas Intermediate is up, Alberta will do well in revenue. A 13 cent per litre cut, although roughly a billion in lost revenue, is small potatoes when balancing a budget on the backs of those who will swallow the cheese-wrapped pill in other ways.

But 13 cents a litre cut rings nicely in the headlines with a leadership vote coming up in Red Deer and by-election advanced polls in Fort McMurray already open.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve bought a UCP membership for the sole reason of voting out Jason Kenny

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