AFL analysis shows Alberta government's real priorities − calls for public investment in environmental monitoring and enforcement
Edmonton - The Alberta government decimated program spending on environmental enforcement, compliance, and monitoring while massively boosting spending on public relations in the Ministry of the Environment (Alberta Environment), a new analysis by the Alberta Federation of Labour showed today.
The analysis found a 26% drop in spending on environmental monitoring, compliance, and enforcement and a 54% increase in spending on public relations since 2003.
The AFL examined actual program spending, contained in annual Budget Estimates documents for Alberta Environment, back to 2003. Alberta spent $27 million on monitoring, enforcement, and compliance programs in 2003. Budget 2010 projects Alberta Environment will spend $20 million this year.
The Communications line for Alberta Environment grew from $717,000 in 2003 to $1.1 million for 2010.
The picture is even worse if one counts spending by the Minister and Deputy Minister on their personal offices. Spending by the Minister, Deputy Minister, and Communications ballooned from a combined total of $1.4 million in 2003 to a projected $2.2 million in 2010, a 57% increase.
The budget for monitoring and enforcement dropped steadily during the 2003-2007 oil-sands boom. As Alberta was approving hundreds of oil-sands-related developments, they quietly chipped away at their own ability to monitor the environmental effects of development.
"As federal environment minister Jim Prentice pointed out last Friday, Alberta has privatized environmental monitoring, leaving most of the work to the industry," says Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"We should not be surprised that the science is now showing that industry is not well-equipped for self-monitoring in the oil sands," continues McGowan.
"Environmental monitoring, compliance, and enforcement belong in the hands of public employees working for Alberta Environment. Public funding for monitoring, inspections, and enforcement is the only way to instill public and international confidence in Alberta's oil sands.
"Yet another expensive PR campaign is not the way to ensure the long-term development of the resource for all Albertans," concludes McGowan.
Graphs and sources for the AFL's Environment Budgets Analysis are contained in the attached backgrounder.
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888 (cell)
- Alberta Environment Spending, Office of the Minister, Deputy Minister and Communications, 2003-2010
- Alberta Environment Spending on Monitoring, Compliance & Enforcement, 2003-2010
- Alberta Environment Spending on Communications, 2003-2010