EDMONTON - The Alberta government has released its provincial budget, which continues the previous budget's direction of significant cuts in nearly every area of public services, while ignoring the gap between Alberta and every other province in tax revenue generated.
"The cuts in this budget will negatively impact all Alberta families," said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. "The budget is an attack on Albertans who access health care and seniors' care, K-12 education, post-secondary education, child care, and supports for our most vulnerable. Across the board, Albertans can expect higher out of pocket costs and lower quality services as this budget does not address inflation or population growth."
Alberta's post secondary students will be paying $150 million more in tuition while student grants are being cut by over $25 million (over 10%). The UCP has also cut funds from the childcare budget by 7% and Early Intervention for Services for Children has been cut 11% This will mean that more vulnerable families and their children are being hurt by the government's refusal to address their revenue problems, made worse by corporate tax giveaways.
One area of wasteful spending the government continues to preserve is Alberta's generous public subsidies to private schools. The government has increased the budget to private schools to $293 million, funds that could be going to address the UCP cuts to public education.
"At a time when our public schools are being cut, it is incredible that Alberta is still spending nearly $300 million per year subsidizing private schools," said French. "Many other provinces do not provide that funding, and at a time when Alberta's public school classrooms are being cut, this handout to private schools is particularly egregious. The government should immediately reallocate that funding to public schools."
The budget's Tax Plan shows the significant gap between Alberta and the rest of the Canadian provinces in its tax system's ability to raise revenue. If applied to Alberta, the tax systems of other provinces would raise between $ 14.4 and $25.5 billion in additional annual revenue.
"The government is not being honest with Albertans that the biggest difference between the way our province budgets compared to others is that our tax system severely under-performs when it comes to raising revenue," said French. "If we adopted any other tax system in the country, the minimum amount of additional annual revenue we would raise is $14.4 billion. That would be more than enough to reverse the cuts and allow us to actually make the services we rely on stronger, rather than weaker."