Media releases | May 26, 2011

EDMONTON—A coalition of hundreds of thousands of Albertans is gathering to force the Conservative government to fix its broken revenue system and save our schools, post-secondary education, health care and other vital social services.Today (Thursday, May 26), a new campaign was launched under the familiar tartan banner of Join Together Alberta (JTA) to demand that the province reform its revenue model so that the vital public services that Albertans demand and deserve can be protected.“Alberta is one of the wealthiest places in the world, blessed with an abundance of extremely valuable natural resources – and yet our government has manufactured a financial crisis that is likely to see 1,200 teachers laid off in the next few months and a still to be determined number of vital educational support staff,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 140,000 workers and co-chair of the JTA campaign. “Our education system is experiencing the same kind of chaos that has been inflicted on our health-care system, and that pain is also being felt in post-secondary education and in social services struggling to help vulnerable Albertans.”Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of Public Interest Alberta and campaign co-chair, says: “This campaign is going to mobilize people from various public service sectors and citizens across Alberta who care deeply about the fabric of our communities. Albertans know that our public services and communities are worth fighting for, and this campaign is going to help make that loud and clear to all political parties.”Join Together Alberta is an alliance of community groups, social-services agencies and unions and was formed in 2009. The coalition already represents hundreds of thousands of Albertans, but this new campaign will reach out to many more. Coming events include:

  • Phoning 250,000 Alberta homes in the coming days, asking citizens to join the new JTA campaign;
  • A telephone town-hall meeting at 7 p.m. on May 31 that will allow people from all over the province to join an interactive show, much like a radio call-in show, to talk about solutions to Alberta’s revenue problems;
  • A town-hall tour that will visit seven cities including Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Grand Prairie, Calgary, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray and Edmonton (click here for tour details); and
  • The signing of the Our Alberta Declaration (link to pdf of declaration), which calls on the Conservative government to finally realize the province’s real potential, reform its broken revenue system and fund vital public services.
“Alberta’s public post-secondary education system is an important part of our community and our future economic prosperity," says Duncan Wojtaszek, executive director of the Council of Alberta University Students. "Students and other partners in post-secondary education feel that all Albertans should be concerned that cuts will threaten the quality and affordability of that education and so we will actively support the Join Together Alberta campaign."Sharon Armstrong, vice-president of the Alberta Teachers Association, says, “In September, Alberta’s school boards will be $100 million dollars short of the money they will need to maintain the quality of education that we enjoy today. Up to 1,200 teachers across the province will be looking for work this summer elsewhere, because their job in Alberta has disappeared. We appreciate the government’s recent announcement of new schools, but the schools are useless unless we have the staff inside them to inspire our students.”“Due to underfunding of essential public services, the Community Disabilities sector continues to struggle with retention of its most skilled workers as there has been no increase allowed for our staff for the past three years. This under-funding of programs and staff of course has a serious impact on some of Alberta’s most vulnerable people, which should not be the case in such a wealthy province,” says Lynn Groves Hautmann, chair of Edmonton Region Community Disabilities Work Force.-30-Media Contacts: Gil McGowan, president, Alberta Federation of Labour, 780-218-9888Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director, Public Interest Alberta, 780-993-3736