CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The official opposition, the Alberta NDP, is not happy with the budget delivered Thursday.
Leader Rachel Notley told reporters that the plan is designed to make people pay more while getting less.
“We knew we were going to see cuts. What he (Jason Kenney) didn’t tell us was that every single Albertan was going to pay more in income tax,” she said Thursday. “What he didn’t tell us is that you’ll pay more for the services that you count on. And quite frankly, what he didn’t tell us is just how deep those cuts would go.”
We knew we were going to see cuts in Jason Kenney's budget. But he didn't tell us how deep they would go. Here is my reaction.
Posted by Rachel Notley on Thursday, October 24, 2019
“This is basically a plan to make everyday Albertans pay for this government’s $4.5 billion no-job handout to big corporations and the super-rich,” Notley said.
“When they said they would maintain or increase spending to healthcare, they effectively lied,” Notley said. “There is a $100 million less for nurses. There will be fewer doctors in rural communities. There will be be a $90 million cut to drug coverage. They will kick at least 46,000 people off of the senior’s drug plan. There’s an $11 million cut to ambulance services, and there’s less money for acute care hospitals.”
I'm very upset to hear that AUPE and PIA were among the many important stakeholders who were denied access to the GOA budget lock-up. This government needs to immediately recommit itself to the concepts of democracy and transparency. Shame on you Jason Kenney. #ableg #alberta pic.twitter.com/9nh2IkXaL6
— Christina Gray (@ChristinaNDP) October 24, 2019
Meanwhile, Public Interest Alberta is also not satisfied with the budget released.
“Albertans know that cuts hurt, and with cuts to nearly everything, all Albertans are going to feel the pain,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta in a release.
“Cutting this much out of post-secondary education means tuition rates will skyrocket, while the number of educational options and quality of those options will decrease,” said French.
Gil McGowan, with the Alberta Federation of Labour, is also reacting and said the numbers are misleading.
In a release, he said with inflation and increases in the cost of living, the 2.8% is likely a lot more.
“Jason Kenney is playing games with numbers. He’s trying to mislead Albertans. The province is growing, and our public services are already underfunded. A freeze is a cut, and 2.8 per cent is a deeper cut. Comparing his 2.8 per cent cut to Ralph Klein’s cuts of 18 per cent is inaccurate when you account for inflation and population growth the Kenney cuts could be closer to 15 per cent,” McGowan said.
The Fraser Institute, a right-of-centre think-tank, says the budget is a ‘marked’ departure from recent history in Alberta.
Steve Lafleur is a senior policy analyst with the Fraser Institute and told 660 NEWS the moves made would help the province get back to balance.
“The province also spends around 20 per cent more per person on program spending than B.C.,” he explained. “So, the fact that they’re in the opposite direction and actually reducing spending for a chance, I think, is a healthy and important first step to getting back to a balanced budget.”
Lafleur also said the previous governments spent too much on program spending.
“In fact, it increased roughly 100 per cent between 2004-2005 and 2015-2016, which is around twice as much as it needed to, to account for population growth and inflation. So, the fact that we’re moving in the other direction and reducing expenditures is a pretty big step, and I think that’s the main takeaway from the budget.”