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What critics are saying about the Alberta government's budget
Alberta's UCP government released its first budget on Thursday, and critics were quick to condemn the province's corporate tax cuts and spending reductions.
Here's what the Opposition NDP and various unions had to say about the 2019 budget.
RACHEL NOTLEY, NDP LEADER
On the overall budget: "What we saw today is Jason Kenney’s plan to make you pay more and get less. We knew we were going to see cuts, what he didn’t tell us was that every single Albertan was going to pay more for income tax. What he didn’t tell us was that you’ll pay more for the services that you count on."
On the job creation tax cut: "This is basically a plan to make every day Albertans pay for this government’s $4.5 million, no-job handout to big corporations and the super-rich. A handout that has so far done nothing but user in 27,000 jobs losses."
On health care and education: "There’s $100 million less for nurses, there will be fewer doctors in rural communities. There will be a $90-million cut to drug coverage. They will kick at least 47,000 people off of the seniors' drug plan. There’s an $11 million cut to ambulance services."
"They’ve also cut planning funding for the Royal Alex and the Misericordia. And Edmonton’s first new hospital in decades will now take at least another decade, if not more"
DON IVESON, EDMONTON MAYOR
Iveson said he was "very disappointed" and surprised to see the province had dropped a city funding agreement.
"I had an expectation that because it was in the platform it was secure. I'm very disappointed today to find that, with no warning whatsoever, that has changed."
On LRT funding: "The west LRT funding appears to intact, although it is back loaded out several years, which means the City, if it proceeds with the project, will have to float the cost. Which means the government will save money on interest, which Edmontonians will pick up in their place. It's another download. It's moving debt around."
ALBERTA TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION
ATA president Jason Schilling said that the lack of any increase in education spending was a blow to Alberta school districts.
"This budget is, yet again, asking teachers to do more with less. The student population is expected to grow by 15,000 students, and school boards will not receive any more money to support them."
With that expected growth, Schilling said school boards will actually receive $200 less per student compared to the year prior.
"The government is playing a shell game in order to trick us into thinking enrolment growth is being funded, but at the end of the day, school boards have less funding per student, which means larger classes, fewer supports for students and programming cuts.”
The Canadian Union of Public Employees issued a statement blasting the government's fiscal plan as a "betrayal" of its promises to the public sector.
On cuts: "During the provincial election this spring, Jason Kenney promised to 'maintain or increase' public services. Today's budget breaks that promise," CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said in a statement. "Kenney is not freezing spending on health care and education, cuts will come. They will come as costs increase and services are squeezed as a result. Doctor's fees and other contracts will have to be honoured, and that means money will be taken from front line services. Longer wait times, poorer care, fewer nurses with more patients is what we can expect."
On education: "In education, it's the same story – as the population grows, school districts will be squeezed. In turn, they will put more kids into each class, and hire fewer teachers, support staff, custodial workers and educational assistants to try and keep things going."
"The Kenney budget cuts Educational Assistants, it cuts funding for class size reduction, and it cuts funding to keep school fees low."
"This budget is not about balancing the books—that could happen in time without Jason Kenney. This budget is an ideological exercise in cutting the services and wages families depend on," said Unifor national president Jerry Dias.
The private sector union was also swift to denounce the government's corporate tax reduction from 12 per cent to eight per cent by 2022, saying it would do more harm than good.
"Alberta families will pay the price for corporate tax giveaways," said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor western regional director. "At every opportunity, Jason Kenney will side with wealthy business owners over the workers and families that should be the focus of improving Alberta's standard of living."
EDMONTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Not all of the reaction to Thursday's budget was negative. The president of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce said while there are tough measures in the budget to curb spending, they're necessary.
"Budget 2019 may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s the kind of medicine Alberta needs right now," said Chamber president and CEO Janet Riopel. "A clear path back to balanced budgets is needed to avoid burdening future generations with unmanageable debt."
Riopel praised the government for elminating inefficencies while preserving public services. The Chamber did call on the government to "address factors such as demographic changes, an aging population, climate change and infrastructure maintenance."
The organization said it would like to see "regular reports" on the province's long-term fiscal plan so businesses can plan for the future.
Read more about budget 2019 here.