Empty coffers, empty hospitals and empty schools to be part of premier's
EDMONTON, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - 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
"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."
SOURCE Alberta Federation of Labour
For further information:
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ cell 780-218-9888 or office 780-483-3021