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As Alberta’s political landscape continues to shift, there’s one issue leaders – polarized as they might be – can “hopefully” agree on, writes Richard Truscott of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

In an op-ed piece in the Edmonton Journal, he argues that, to ensure the province’s long-term prosperity, it must become a more hospitable place to own and run a small business.
“At one time, Alberta was clearly a leader, whether it was tax reform, cutting red tape, or any other key issue affecting entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, in the past few years, the government has been stuck in neutral, as other provinces closed the gap.”

To restore the so-called ‘Alberta Advantage,’ Mr. Truscott proposes the following steps:

1. Long-term tax relief. He acknowledges that Alberta business owners have it pretty good overall, especially since they do not have to collect and administer provincial sales tax for the government. But But the fact that the other three Western provinces reduced their small business income tax rate leaves Alberta with a higher rate, eroding any advantage it may have had previously. “Staged reductions” in the small business income tax rate would go a long way, he suggests.

2. Commitment to cutting red tape. The province used to be a pioneer at ensuring rules and regulations made sense, and didn’t burden entrepreneurs, but the government has become complacent, emphasizing that the next leader must make regulatory reform a priority.

3. Address labour shortages. For Alberta business owners, it’s a real problem. In fact, recent CFIB data reveals that 46 per cent of entrepreneurs say the shortage of skilled labour is hindering sales and production, making it an operating challenge. While hiring is a small-business problem, the government could develop a training tax credit which could increase the number of qualified, reliable employees.

Katherine Scarrow – Globe and Mail – Friday, April 13th, 2012

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