New levy a pain

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December 22, 2016 11:18 AM

A new carbon levy is coming into effect come January, and for some it seems, it’s going to be a real thorn in the side.

Richard Starke, MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster and Alberta PC leadership contender, spoke at the Alberta Legislature recently, saying the new levy would make Alberta-side in businesses in Lloydminster less competitive.

“Lloydminster is Canada’s only Border City, but we always strive to have our city as a singular seamless entity and when provincial disparity does arise, our government in the city has always worked with provincial governments to minimize or eliminate them,” Starke said.

“Now for decades the Saskatchewan government has foregone collection of the provincial sales tax for businesses on the east side of Lloydminster so they can compete on an equal playing field with those on the Alberta side, but coming soon, the NDP carbon levy; so the Minister of Finance, did your department give any consideration to the inequities that your carbon tax will create in Lloydminster?”

The NDP Minister of Finance, Joe Ceci, responded, saying despite the levy, Alberta will still have a $7.5 billion tax advantage over the rest of the provinces, which Alberta-side Lloydminsterites will continue to enjoy.

This reply wasn’t enough to satisfy the MLA, however, and he voiced his concern that local fuel dealers in Alberta are gravely concerned their customers will opt to buy gas on the Saskatchewan side of the border.

He asked members of the Alberta government once again if any specific actions were being taken to support Alberta businesses in the Border City.
Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Deron Billous, continued to dance around question, and only reiterated Ceci’s response of Alberta being one of the lowest tax jurisdictions in the country, avoiding comments on specific actions to support the city’s Alberta-side businesses.

“Our government has reduced the small business tax to the second lowest in the country and much lower than Saskatchewan, Mr. Speaker, as well we don’t have the PST, and as the Minister of Finance pointed out, even with our carbon levy coming in, Alberta is $7.5 billion dollars cheaper.”

Ward Read, CEO of Lloydminster Economic Development, said the tax will likely cause Albertan companies in the fuel business to increase costs of their goods and services, and will also change the competitive landscape in the city, but admitted the only way people will find out just what that means is to wait and see.

He also agreed there’s a real probability of consumers choosing to buy gas on the Saskatchewan side, because the carbon tax will mean a 4.49 cent increase at Alberta gas pumps.

“There’s a definite ability, and when you’ve got big tanks as some of our trucks do, four cents a litre can certainly add up with the size of the tanks and the regularity of the fill,” Read said.

“You can certainly choose to defer making those purchases until you’re over on the other side of the city.”

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