Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta
To say the past two years have changed the way we live and work in Alberta would be an understatement. The hardships we have collectively faced have meant the toughest kinds of decisions: from whether to send our kids back to school to how to rebuild our careers after losing our jobs, the pandemic has hit so many of us very, very hard.
What we need now in Budget 2022, more than anything, is a plan that will set our province back on track with a just recovery for all. We know that hope without a plan is just wishful thinking. But a plan without hope is just the status quo.
Working with dozens of organizations, advocates and individuals from across Alberta, Public Interest Alberta is offering the provincial government a roadmap for Alberta’s future that prioritizes people’s lives over short-term cuts and privatization and our collective future over short-term gains for shareholders.
If the past two years have shown us anything it’s that now is a critical time to invest in healthcare, education, child care, and social services, so that nobody is left behind in our provincial recovery.
In this budget, we need to bottom line hope. And that starts with putting people at the center of it.
We are calling on the government to do something quite radical and different, at least for them: listen to people’s needs, instead of wealthy insiders. Under this government, and for a very long time, life has been getting harder, not easier, for Albertans. It’s not time for a return to ‘normal’, but for a new way of doing things and a just recovery for everyone.
But how do we do that? At Public Interest Alberta, we believe that we need to start with the basics and make sure that the hope we all have for our future touches the daily lives of all Albertans.
That means investing in strong public services that are reliable and resilient, not selling them off to the highest bidder. That means building out a truly affordable childcare system and rebuilding our public education, so that all kids get the best possible start to their education. It means finally fixing AISH so that it doesn’t tether Albertans living with disabilities to poverty for their lifetime. It means investing in housing and finally ending homelessness. It means treating seniors with dignity by investing in programs, supports and healthcare so that nobody is left behind. It means addressing anti-racism and building out a vision to eradicate hate. It means ensuring utilities are affordable and not putting Albertans deeper and deeper into debt.
Jason Kenney will say that Alberta’s recovery is working because oil prices have gone up. But budgets are about priorities and outcomes for people, not shareholders.
Jason Kenney will say that Alberta is on the path to recovery because the budget is nearly balanced. But budgets are not about estimates and actuals, they are about Albertans’ lives and our collective future.
To date, this government has shown that they will choose the bottom line of the corporate elite over the lives and dignity of Albertans every single time. With the fiscal picture in our province getting brighter, the province must seize this massive opportunity. That’s what our ‘Just Recovery for All’ plan is all about.
Because the only recovery that will truly work is a recovery for all. A recovery that bottom lines hope and builds out a plan that puts people at the center of Alberta’s future.