The tax system has been the the elephant in any room where Canada's premiers have met over the past three years. They talk education, health, climate change - all issues that need public investment and revenues. But despite pleas from voters, tax advocates even tax experts - they avoid having the conversation.
The CRA collects tax revenues for the majority of the provinces. Its work has been compromised by thousands of loopholes, laid off auditors and an anemic attempt at tracking the $178B of Canadian money that is sitting offshore. It costs provincial revenues billions. Those are billions that could be spent on gearing up child care plans, supporting seniors home care and the myriad of other responsibilities that fall to the provinces.
Ontario, BC and Quebec have started some of the hard work of turning a broken tax system around - there's still a long way to go. All Canadians deserve to know that corporations and the super-wealthy are paying their fair share.
Premiers are failing their voters by letting revenues slip out of their provinces. Letting the Harper government off the hook about the current fiasco at the CRA makes them partners in bad fiscal stewardship. Tax reform may not be on this meeting's agenda and neither will Alberta's premier. But here's hoping that at the very least someone tells Premier Jim Prentice how much Albertans are losing each year to tax loopholes and havens. It might help him with his sales tax problems.
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