Alberta Politics

What’s the Real Cost of Balancing Alberta’s Budget?

The United Conservative government of Alberta has been following through on their promises to make Alberta a more friendly place to do business. 

Alberta is now the home of the lowest corporate tax rates in Canada, and the government has just announced a generous plan to allow property tax incentives of up to 30 years for natural gas producers (the next closest jurisdiction in North America allows 10 years.)

One might argue the UCP received a strong mandate to implement this pro- business agenda in the hopes that it will help bring back some of the 100,000+ jobs that were lost during the great oil crash of 2014. 

The befuddling point of it all though is that the UCP is all in on business and all out on social awareness. 

They have announced suspensions or withdrawal of funding for supervised consumption sites in Medicine Hat, Calgary, and Lethbridge pending review.

With 2 Albertans per day dying of opioid overdoses, and a newly released government report showing that it is largely men in their late 30s in the trades dying, one would think that the UCP might be cognizant of where their core demographics lie. 

Blaise Boehmer, Jason Kenney’s former Communications lieutenant tries to frame the discussion as a province with finite resources that is putting the economy in front of junkies.

That’s the same either-or dichotomy that the UCP had hoped would take them to and keep them in power. So far, it’s worked. 

The aforementioned generous natural gas incentives? Those are being paid for out of property taxes that are supposed to be earmarked for education.

The UCP is defending their decisions saying those property taxes don’t fully fund education costs, and while that may be true, if the revenue isn’t coming in, it’s either going to need to be made up or cuts made to get to their promised balanced budget. 

They have already cancelled the Classroom Improvement Fund from previous governments and have not committed to school boards the funding they need to start their school years in September. That won’t come until November, after the federal election has passed and the threat of a draconian slasher of a budget impacting Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s electoral prospects is long gone.  

A jurisdiction that needs to balance its budget on the backs of young kids and struggling addicts isn’t just at risk of going bankrupt financially. We may be morally bankrupting our future too. 


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