EDMONTON - “For the second year in a row, the budget is balanced — on the backs of Albertans,” said Public Interest Alberta’s Executive Director Bradley Lafortune. “In it, we’ve got a tale of two Albertas: an Alberta where the already-wealthy thrive, and an Alberta where regular people struggle to put food on the table, gas in their car, and a roof over their head.”
“Throughout the budget we see robust investment in one very particular way — into the pockets of wealthy shareholders, CEOs, and private interests,” said Lafortune. “Be it through massive public giveaways to for-profit surgical clinics and privately-held charter schools, or through the lowest corporate tax rate in the country, Smith and the UCP continue to prove their allegiance to corporate profits over the well-being and livelihoods of every day Albertans.”
“So many of the so-called highlights of this budget are the UCP covering their tracks before an election,” said Lafortune. “The UCP are proudly proclaiming decisions like increases to AISH and other income supports. Do they expect us to forget they slashed it over the last 3 years? They brag that tuition will be capped at 2% while they let it rise 21%. They say they’re investing in education after removing thousands of educators from classrooms over four years. It’s absurd.”
This budget shows no real signs of strengthening public services and renewing a battered public workforce that has been ravaged by UCP cuts and the pandemic.
“They’re pouring investment into private enterprise, including $137 million over the next three years into charter school capital expansion,” said Lafortune. “A huge proportion of their “investment” into health care is going to the American-style Surgical Initiative Program, which is proven in other jurisdictions to drive up costs to the system and actually lengthen wait times for those who can’t afford to pay for private care.”
“Since the UCP were first elected, cuts and chaos have been their calling card —- sometimes with disastrous and deadly results,” said Lafortune. “We’ve watched them mishandle everything from COVID response to the affordability crisis. Albertans know they cannot trust the UCP when it comes to delivering the public services we all rely on. This blatant election budget won’t fool Albertans and it won’t make up for the damage done over the past three years.”
“Times are incredibly hard for Albertans,” Lafortune continued. “Albertans continue to feel the squeeze of record-breaking inflation and skyrocketing costs for essentials like food, utilities, and housing — this budget is leaving them behind once again. We need real solutions to create a future in Alberta for all to thrive, not just wealthy shareholders and CEOS.”