Auditor General asked to examine why government is failing to meet its
own revenue targets
EDMONTON, Feb. 17 /CNW/ - As Albertans brace for yet another budget that includes deep cuts to
vital services, a coalition of unions is calling on Alberta's Auditor
General to investigate why the government is failing to meet its own
targets for collecting revenue from non-renewable resource extraction.
"Alberta Energy sets a target for how much it collects from resources
companies in exchange for the right to develop publicly owned energy
resources. But the government has failed to meet its own target almost
every year," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of
Labour (AFL), which represents 140,000 workers.
"The province is missing out on billions of dollars in revenue that it
should be collecting. If that money was being collected, then there
would be no need to even consider deep and destabilizing cuts to things
like health care, education and other core services. That's why we're
asking for an investigation into the government's mishandling of
revenue collection: given our province's continued prosperity, there is
simply no good reason why we should be looking at another austerity
The union coalition - which includes the Alberta Federation of Labour,
the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Health Sciences
Association of Alberta (HSAA), the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) and
the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) - has written to
Auditor General Merwan Saher, asking him to examine government policies
and whether it is meeting its own targets.
"The way Alberta Energy sets its targets for resource rent is shrouded
in mystery and blanketed in confusion," says McGowan. After auditing
the ministry in 2006-2007, Saher expressed concern over inconsistent
and contradictory targets the ministry had set and called for it to
"clearly describe and publicly state the objectives and targets of
Alberta's royalty regimes."
"This recommendation and others made by the Auditor General appear to
have been ignored," says McGowan, so the coalition has called on Saher
to investigate what action has been taken on his report.
The coalition letter says: "Our concerns about public reporting on the
royalty regime stem from the Ministry's apparent failure to meet the
50- to 75-per-cent target of economic rent every single year between
2000 and 2008 - a target they loosely set for themselves and the only
real, tangible target Albertans can refer to."
If the government had collected in the middle of its target range, it
would have brought in additional $37 billion over the last decade,
according to research by the Parkland Institute. "The government's
purse isn't empty because it's spending too much - it's empty because
the government isn't bothering to collect what it should - and what
Albertans, as the owner of the resource, are actually owed," says
"Albertans deserve to know how much of the value of our natural
resources we are capturing," says the coalition letter. "Our quality of
life and public services overwhelmingly depend on the revenues we get
from Alberta's largest industries."
SOURCE Alberta Federation of Labour
For further information:
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ cell 780-218-9888 or office 780-483-3021