Edmonton - This is the budget the Wildrose Alliance made, says Gil McGowan, leader of Alberta's largest labour group.
"This budget is straight out of the Wildrose Alliance's playbook - continued starvation diet for Alberta's valued public service, unrealistic expenditure limits and a total lack of any measure to shore-up the province's flagging revenues," says McGowan.
"This year's budget shows the Progressive Conservative Party is more concerned about the Wildrose Alliance than it is about Alberta's workers, families and communities."
McGowan notes that this year's budget contains $6.6 billion in infrastructure spending, while program spending will not increase over last year, meaning a reduction when inflation is taken into account.
"After years of neglect, Alberta needs infrastructure investment," says McGowan. "However, without adequate program funding, Stelmach's legacy will be empty hospitals and schools. There is little point building new health facilities and schools if we don't have the funds to hire staff to run them."
"Stelmach's budget caps program spending at below the rate of inflation and population growth, a direct response to a key platform plank of the Wildrose Alliance. Only a few months ago, the Stelmach government argued that this approach ‘does not necessarily match the practical demand on government for services, programs, and infrastructure.'"
"On the cusp of the next boom, we should be investing in workers, not cutting programs that support training," says McGowan in response a $61 million cut to Employment and Immigration.
McGowan says the budget proves the Tories are like the Wildrose Alliance in another important way: both parties only look at the spending side of the budget and ignore the revenue side.
"This budget is totally bereft of any plan to deal with the billions of dollars the government is failing to collect by not meeting its own targets on royalty revenues. The provincial purse lost about $37 billion in the last decade thanks to this madness," says McGowan. "Like the Wildrose Alliance, the Tories are willing to let billions of dollars disappear because of politically motivated giveaways and a shoddy collection system."
"This government has broken the public trust by claiming poverty in order to justify axing program spending, while ignoring lost revenues and the fact that we're almost out of the recession," says McGowan, noting that the Conference Board of Canada predicts the Alberta economy will recover all the jobs lost during the recession by the end of the year.
"For years, the Tories have consistently under-estimated revenues and over-estimated expenditures and then announced surpluses in later quarters," says McGowan. "Cutbacks now are not only cruel and unnecessary, they're politically motivated. This is further evidence that the Progressive Conservative government is too distracted by polls and leadership squabbles to govern on behalf of the public good."
- 30 -
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ cell 780-218-9888 or office 780-483-3021