Government renews commitment to underfunding public services

Alberta's 2013 budget does little to address the province's chronic revenue problems says the Alberta Federation of Labour

Edmonton – In a province growing as rapidly as Alberta, a zero-per-cent budget increase amounts to a cut says the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Speaking to reporters in the legislature rotunda after having spent hours reviewing budget documents, AFL president Gil McGowan said he was disappointed that the budget did little to address the province's chronic revenue problems.

"The finance minister calls this a 'hold-the-line' budget, but really this is a cut-to-the bone budget," McGowan said.

"In a province that's growing by 100,000 people a year, a 0% increase amounts to a substantial cut."

The budget firmly cements Alberta's miserliness when it comes to public services. Even before the cuts in Budget 2013, no other province spent less on public services as a share of its economy than Alberta. Per person, Alberta has the second fewest public employees of any province.

"If Alberta employed the tax system of any other province, we would raise at least $10.6 billion more each year for public services," McGowan said. "Instead we have just another edition of the old Tory playbook: cuts to vital public services, giveaways to big business."

Even though the economy is running red hot and Alberta has an abundance of resources, provinces like Saskatchewan and Manitoba collect more public revenue per person.

"It's official: the Alberta government has pissed away another oil boom, and ordinary Albertans are going to pay the price through unnecessary cuts," McGowan said. "They promised structural change, but have ignored the obvious structural problem: our broken revenue system."

Since changes to Alberta's income tax laws in 2001, the provincial government has developed a chronic revenue problem, culminating in Budget 2013. This year, the province will not only have sweeping cuts, but also a $451 million deficit.

"Ralph Klein celebrated getting us out of debt by putting us back on the road to debt," McGowan said. "The reason that the Redford Government is having problems with budgeting is that they haven't stopped giving Ralph Bucks to the super rich."



Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email

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