The view of the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Friday, March 28, 2014. The Alberta government says its moving to force oilpatch companies to make good on their unpaid municipal taxes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

By Bob Weber in Edmonton

The Alberta government is taking steps to force oilpatch companies to make good on their unpaid municipal taxes, including sending reminders from provincial cabinet ministers to those in arrears.

“Our goal is to reduce unpaid taxes throughout the province,” Energy Minister Peter Guthrie said in a release.

Earlier this month, Rural Municipalities Alberta released figures showing that energy firms owed $268 million in back taxes in 2022, a figure that is up more than six per cent from 2021.

The pace of nonpayment has also increased. There was $53 million left unpaid last year, up $15 million from the previous year.

In addition, the organization said its members have written off another $150 million in unpaid taxes as unrecoverable.

On Monday, Guthrie said he’s issued an order that blocks companies from acquiring or transferring licences on wells or other assets if their unpaid taxes exceed a threshold amount. That threshold is yet to be determined and is to be set by the Alberta Energy Regulator and Alberta Municipal Affairs.

Alberta Energy and Alberta Municipal Affairs said in a release that once the threshold has been established, companies that don’t meet it will be targeted for collection.

“This problem has lingered for far too long, and while some viable companies have started to pay their back taxes, others are still not getting the message,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz.

At the legislature, Guthrie walked past reporters on his way into the chamber for question period, declining to stop and answer questions about the change.

Joe Ceci, municipal affairs critic for the Opposition NDP, said he wants to see more details from the United Conservative Party government on the proposed threshold.

“The policy as far as it goes is OK, but it’s too little too late,” Ceci told reporters. “They should have been acting a lot quicker.”

Paul McLauchlin, president of Rural Municipalities Alberta, said the move could solve up to 80 per cent of the problem.

“I would definitely give the program an A,” he said.

McLauchlin acknowledged that setting a threshold instead of requiring companies to simply pay what’s owed is a compromise. Despite recent high oil prices, McLauchlin said many energy companies are struggling to survive.

“We’ve got some fundamental realities in this industry — excessive liabilities and low asset values. We understand the struggles folks are in.”

McLauchlin said Monday’s announcement at least sets out some guidelines and best practices for making good on unpaid taxes.

He added that both Guthrie and Schulz have said they will personally communicate with the heads of non-paying companies to tell them it’s time to settle up.

“(Companies) are getting extreme pressure to correct their books,” he said.

Gabrielle Symbalisty, a spokesperson with Alberta Energy, said a letter from the ministers has been sent out to a list of companies with unpaid municipal taxes.

— With files from Dean Bennett

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2023.

The Canadian Press

News from © The Canadian Press, 2022. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • 0071 Pride Upkeep 2024 Packages
    0071 Pride Upkeep 2024 Packages
  • 0070 Sask Oil Show 2024 pre-register
    0070 Sask Oil Show 2024 pre-register
  • 0068 Sask Oil Show 2024 booth
    0068 Sask Oil Show 2024 booth
  • 0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
    0067 PFM SaskWorks Payroll Investment Plan
  • 0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
    0066 WBPC Promo video 30 seconds
  • 0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
    0065 Anova Resources field operator Oxbow
  • 0064 Estevan OTS
    0064 Estevan OTS
  • 0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
    0063 Turnbull Excavating hiring crusher
  • 0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
    0062 TED_EPAC_Technology_30
  • 0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
    0061 SIMSA 2024 For Sask Buy Sask
  • 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
    0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
  • 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
    0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
  • 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
    0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
  • 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
    0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
  • 0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
    0053 Kingston Midstream Westspur Alameda Click Before You Dig large text
  • 0052 Predator Inspections
    0052 Predator Inspections
  • 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
    0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
  • 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
    0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
  • 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
    0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
  • 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
    0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
  • 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
  • 0022 Grimes winter hiring
  • 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
  • 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
  • 0015 Latus Viro
    0015 Latus Viro
  • 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
  • 0011
  • 0006 JK Junior
  • 0002 gilliss casing services
    0002 gilliss casing services
  • 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
    9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
  • 9001

 

The Saskatchewan First Act has passed. Now what? We ask the minister behind the bill

Quick Dick McDick: Hurry Hard