Notley makes best of bad situation

Budget will help Alberta recover from slump

Edmonton – Albertans are receiving good government in trying economic times.

The Alberta Federation of Labour praised the provincial budget tabled today, noting that budget cuts in a time of economic downturn would have thrown the province into a deep recession.

“The Notley Government has made the best of a bad situation,” Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan said. “They were handed a broken revenue system with tax rates way below those of any other province, and far below those Alberta had a decade ago, and they have the courage to make incremental steps towards fair taxation. They’re tabling this budget during one of the predictable downturns in the price of oil, and they have the foresight to respond by investing in infrastructure.”

The budget accounts for the growing needs of Albertans. It includes a four per cent increase for Health, two per cent increase for Advanced Education, sufficient increases to Education to fully fund enrollment growth, and $4.3 billion in sustained funding for Human Services, including income supports and programs that serve Albertans who are vulnerable to an economic slowdown. The Notley Government continues to implement its platform by budgeting for 2,000 long-term care beds and a robust public homecare plan, a two-year tuition freeze for post-secondary students, and the elimination of school fees. And this budget showcases the government’s commitment to Alberta’s future growth by providing hardworking families with a new Alberta Child Benefit, to support 235,000 children, and setting out a bold vision for sustained and diverse job growth with new initiatives across the government.

“The right-wingers are spinning a fable that you can have good healthcare without paying for it, that you can pay no taxes and still see massive budget surpluses … but the world doesn’t work that way. This is a budget for the real world, and given the real world facts, this government has tabled a reasonable budget,” McGowan said. “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. You can’t spin straw into gold. And all those right-wing Rumpelstiltskins who would tell you otherwise are living in a fantasy.”

McGowan noted that with a more reasonable revenue system like the one Alberta had in the 1990s, the government would have been able to set aside more than $8 billion each year from 2001-2013, while oil revenues were more lucrative. This would have provided more of a financial cushion against economically troubling times.

“The next time that the province is awash with oil dollars, we will need a government that remembers to put some revenues aside for times like these, rather than throwing it away on Ralph Bucks,” McGowan said.  

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Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail [email protected]

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