EDMONTON—Public Interest Alberta Executive Director Joel French participated in a Government of Alberta's budget consultation this morning in Edmonton. His advice to government was to focus on three main priorities:
- Do not approach the budget with the goal of making piecemeal cuts.
- Address the long-term, chronic underfunding by enhancing government revenue through fair taxation.
- Stop the public funding of private schools, and reallocate that funding to strengthening public education.
"Rather than piecemeal cuts to public services, this government needs to address the severe revenue shortage in the province," said Joel French. "Making cuts – and that includes not keeping pace with population growth and inflation – is short-sighted and affects Albertans directly through their hospitals, classrooms, or care facilities.”
French noted that the tax systems of any other province would raise at minimum an additional $7.5 billion in revenue for the province.
"Having a tax system that doesn't raise sufficient revenue is not an advantage," said French. "The real Alberta advantage is our capacity to raise the revenue we need to have the strongest public services in the country.”
French added that the public funding currently going to private schools should be reallocated to fund the government’s still-unfulfilled education promises.
“More than $100 million is being used to subsidize schools outside of the public systems while the government’s election promises of reducing school fees, reducing classroom sizes, increasing classroom supports, and introducing a school lunch program remain unfunded. A reallocation of funds could improve classrooms for all Albertans.”