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Notley: Budget 2022 shows why Albertans can’t trust the UCP


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Budget 2022 is a prime example of why Albertans can’t trust the UCP.

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Albertans have a right to leadership that listens and is completely focused on ensuring strong public health care and long-term prosperity for Alberta families and businesses.

Only the UCP could benefit from soaring energy prices and still find new ways to take money from the pockets of hardworking people. Sky-high oil prices, but no stability in our hospitals, 1,000 fewer teachers in our schools, no real plan for jobs or economic diversification, and no help for Albertans who can’t pay their utility bills.

I am disturbed that the UCP’s promise of natural gas rebates, made only a few days ago, turns out to be a complete hoax. The program won’t start until next winter, and the rebates won’t be available until natural gas hits prices far higher than today’s, nearly double the UCP’s own projections.

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In short, there’s no help coming for natural gas or electricity bills.

On top of this, the UCP continues to raise Albertans’ taxes through the dishonest practice of bracket creep. Jason Kenney raged against the federal Liberals for this, but he did it to Albertans in the UCP’s first budget and continues with Budget 2022. This will separate Alberta families from $850 million in additional income taxes by election day of 2023. The UCP’s de-indexation of benefits also erodes the buying power of the child and family benefit, seniors benefit, income support and AISH.

Neither the throne speech nor the budget speech included a word about the appalling unemployment rate in Calgary, the highest of any major Canadian city. Job creation forecasts have been reduced in every single UCP budget, and they are now projecting almost 140,000 fewer jobs in 2023 than they originally promised in 2019.

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The UCP also didn’t offer a single idea to revitalize a downtown core that is facing the highest office vacancy rate since the Great Depression.

As I told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce earlier this month, I’m looking forward to presenting detailed plans to bring a new energy to Calgary’s downtown core very soon. Calgary can and must be a global headquarters for energy innovation.

There is no real plan to create jobs or drive innovation in the budget. No meaningful investment in geothermal, hydrogen, energy storage or other emerging fields that Alberta must assert a leadership role in.

The post-secondary budget is full of sleight of hand, but essentially asks schools to offer more classes alongside the same $600 million in cuts.

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The UCP will also leave Alberta with almost 1,000 teachers fewer than we had in 2019. These cuts will harm our ability to keep our young people in Alberta and stifle our economic growth in the long term.

Lastly, I am deeply concerned to see the UCP using the pandemic as cover for their doomed experiment in moving surgeries into private, for-profit facilities.

Every tax dollar spent on profit and shareholder dividends is a dollar not spent to maintain or staff the public hospitals in communities across Alberta. This scheme will leave Alberta patients and families waiting longer for critical surgeries. How do we know this? Well, the premier himself touts Saskatchewan as his model, and Albertans should take note of this.

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Wait times in Saskatchewan are longer today than ever, with more than 2½ times more people on their waitlist today than there were in 2015. Saskatchewan is the third-worst province in Canada for getting knee replacements done on time and the second-worst in Canada for hip replacements. They trail Alberta badly on every measure. We cannot impose this failed experiment on Alberta families.

This is a budget that continues to shift the tax burden off of profitable corporations and onto working Alberta families. Even with dramatic profits, corporations are now paying almost a billion dollars less in taxes while families are paying billions more.

Albertans can’t trust the UCP.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley is also the leader of the official Opposition in the Alberta legislature.

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