Albertans reject austerity

Nurses, teachers, health sciences professionals, and public employees urge government to listen to majority of Albertans

Edmonton - Labour leaders are standing up for the majority of Albertans who do not want to see public services cut on March 7.

At a joint press conference on Monday, March 4, at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Edmonton, the presidents of the province's six largest public sector unions and associations urged Alison Redford to listen to Albertans, most of whom want their public services protected. The Alberta Federation of Labour, Alberta Teachers' Association, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Canadian Union of Public Employees-Alberta, Health Sciences Association of Alberta and United Nurses of Alberta have decided to join their voices together to send a clear message about the upcoming budget.

Polling, conducted by Environics from February 14-21, shows that more than 70 per cent of Albertans reject the idea of cuts to public services. More than three quarters of those polled agree that there should be an increase on taxes for the wealthy and corporations.

Far from thinking the government should cut public services, the majority of Albertans believe we should be investing more in health care, education, and other services. Albertans see a growing province, a booming economy, soaring corporate profits and low unemployment, and they're confused as to why health care, education, and community services still don't have the resources they need to do the job right.

Albertans were clear in their message that they support the need for some increased revenues, but that they reject the idea of a sales tax. Only 17 per cent of those polled were in support of a provincial sales tax, 72 per cent said they would be in favour of returning to a progressive income tax, and 77 per cent were in favour of increased taxes on corporations and those who make more than $200,000 per year.

When asked about spending, respondents identified several priorities: Creating a provincial strategy for long-term care for seniors was a high priority for 70 per cent of respondents, while protecting publicly-funded health care against for-profit health care was identified as a high priority by 57 per cent. Nearly half of respondents said that hiring more teachers and support staff for elementary and secondary schools was a high priority.

The government is trying to justify massive cuts to health care and education by saying oil prices have dipped. Albertans aren't buying it. Albertans know a growing economy needs adequate investment in public services.

Because labour leaders were concerned about the direction that budget discussions had been going, they commissioned a poll by Environics Research Group to find out what Alberta are looking for. The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 Albertans, is considered to have a margin of error of +/- 3.1, with a 95% confidence level.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email orokne@afl.org.

Fact sheetRevenue, spending & public sector wages (Revised March 2013)
Fact sheetOil companies' profits (March 2013)

Podcast of today's conference


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