Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Friday, May 07, 2004

Seniors advocacy group questions wisdom of government management 


The Edmonton based Seniors Action and Liaison Team (SALT) would like to know why the Government of Alberta wastes taxpayer dollars in its management of taxation for healthcare, according to Kevan Rhead, the group's Vice-Chair.

"The duplicate tax system managed by Alberta Health is unnecessary, costly and unfair to Albertans," said Rhead on Thursday at the Alberta Legislature in connection with a seniors rally. "The health care premium tax costs millions to administer, and more millions have to be written off because the money cannot be collected from many Albertans," he said.

"Health care premiums are in fact an unfair regressive tax," Rhead asserted. "Their elimination would be a significant benefit both to employers and to individuals, such as seniors, who have to pay these premiums out of their fixed incomes. SALT is extremely disappointed that the government has failed to eliminate this health care premium tax for all Albertans."

In addition, SALT continues to deplore the repeated efforts by the Alberta Government to claim health care is not sustainable, according to Rhead.

"The Alberta government still promulgates the myth that health care spending is not sustainable despite huge, un-budgeted, recurring surpluses and the fact that Alberta's spending on health care has actually decreased over the past 10 years from:

- 5.3% of GDP in 1993/94 to 4.9% of GDP in 2003/04, and from

- 30% of government revenue in 1993/94 to 27% of revenue in

Health costs have in fact lagged behind inflation and economic growth."

See backup for these numbers by clicking here.

Further, the SALT representative challenged the government's continuing use of the pretext of un-sustainability to argue for curtailment of services and for greater private sector involvement in the form of:

- Private, for-profit surgical facilities,

- Public, private partnerships to build hospitals and other public facilities,

- Private, for-profit insurance companies.

On the topic of Blue Cross, Rhead said, "Eliminating the tax-exempt status of the not-for-profit Alberta Blue Cross will benefit no one except the private for-profit insurance industry."

The Seniors Action and Liaison Team (SALT) is a self-financed group of Edmonton seniors concerned with social justice issues in Alberta and Canada.

For further information contact:

Dr. Brian Staples, Chair, SALT Phone: (780) 466-8042

Noel Somerville. Chair, SALT Communications Committee.
Phone: (780) 452-1846, or

Kevan Rhead, Vice Chair of SALT. Phone: (780) 435-1121

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