Finance Minister Joe Ceci heard several concerns from local business owners as he visited Grande Prairie last week. Chamber members wondered aloud whether recent increases to the personal and corporate tax rates, the minimum wage, and the new carbon tax might drive people out of the province or force businesses to up their rates. Ceci tried to assure them that they would see that money again.
“They’ll put that money back into the economy. They’re not going to be buying luxury goods with this kind of increase; they’re going to be using it to improve their quality of life or their education or their savings for the future, so that they can improve themselves and get up the ladder.”
Ceci adds that the carbon tax is expected to raise 3-billion dollars annually by 2018, some of which will be invested in green technologies and rebates to lower-income families. He also stressed to the Chamber of Commerce crowd that the government will continue to advocate for the oil and gas sector, pushing pipelines like Energy East.
“Oil and gas is going to remain the heart of our economic driver for many decades to come. We are not putting road blocks in the way of oil and gas industrial development; we want to be good partners with that industry.”
Ceci didn’t make it to Grande Prairie during his pre-budget tour, but says what he heard here will be part of his prep for next year’s budget, to be tabled in the spring.