EDMONTON - Alberta’s provincial budget has been released and contains cuts (in some cases by not funding inflation and population growth) across many areas of public services.
“Albertans know that cuts hurt, and with cuts to nearly everything, all Albertans are going to feel the pain,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “At the same time, the wealthiest corporations are getting a big tax cut, benefiting their already-wealthy shareholders around the world. This budget makes all Albertans pay to make the rich even richer.”
Some of the most significant cuts are being made in the area of post-secondary education, with nearly $212 million being cut from the budget, and revenue from tuition payments rising by nearly $54 million.
“Cutting this much out of post-secondary education means tuition rates will skyrocket, while the number of educational options and quality of those options will decrease,” said French. “If we are serious about building the economy of the future and having a well-educated population overall, we should be heading in the opposite direction, making investments to expand educational opportunities.”
The budget also cuts payments for AISH recipients, by cutting legislated inflation increases, and reduces prescription drug coverage for seniors.
"The cuts for seniors and persons with disabilities are particularly mean-spirited," said French. "Trying to balance the budget on the backs of some of Alberta's most vulnerable is a morally bankrupt approach. Seniors and persons with disabilities didn't create the government's problems, but they're being made to pay for them."
The government’s budget documents contain a graph comparing Alberta’s tax system with the tax systems of every other province in the country (titled “Alberta’s Tax Advantage”). It shows that the tax systems of other provinces, if adopted in Alberta, would raise between $13.4 billion and $23.5 billion in additional annual revenue.
“The government’s own comparison of our tax system with those of other Canadian provinces shows where the true problem is,” added French. “Unless Alberta fixes its tax system to raise the revenue we need, governments will continue to make cut after cut after cut to our public services. The result is Albertans and their families paying more out of their pockets for the services they need or not having access to those services at all.”