Alberta’s NDP Party says the UCP’s Budget 2022 fails to provide any meaningful plan to create jobs in Alberta, fails to offer any relief for soaring monthly household bills, and breaks a promise made only days ago to help Alberta families with natural gas costs.
“This budget is a prime example of why Albertans can’t trust the UCP,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
“Only the UCP could have soaring energy prices and still find new ways to disappoint the hardworking people of this province. Sky-high oil prices and no stability in our hospitals, 1,000 fewer teachers in schools, no real plan for jobs or economic diversification, and no help for Albertans who can’t pay their utility bills today.”
Alberta will be the first province to balance its budget in 2022-23 as Canada recovers from the pandemic-induced recession. The provincial government’s 2020-21 deficit of $17 billion was bigger than any other province. The Kenney government kept program spending from rising by little more than two per cent annually, even with one-time COVID-related spending.
But Notley is not happy with the UCP about stalled promises. Despite Jason Kenney’s recent pledge for a rebate for natural gas costs, the promised rebate program won’t start until next winter, and even then will only be available at prices the UCP budget itself says will never be reached.
“I was shocked that this government put nothing in this budget to help with the sky-high bills Albertans are paying right now. Not a cent,” Notley said. “For both gas and electricity, Albertans are on their own this winter.”
The forecasts for the balanced budget are based on reasonable oil prices (US$70 in 2022-23, US$69 in 2023-24, and US$66.50 in 2024-25). Expenses are pegged at around $62.1 billion next year, leaving Alberta on track for a $511-million surplus in 2022-23. Bitumen royalties make up about a sixth of Alberta’s anticipated $62.6-billion revenue expected next year, which runs from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023.
The NDP says, the UCP continues to raise Albertans’ personal income taxes using bracket creep while eroding the benefits of families and vulnerable Albertans.
“The UCP’s bracket creep policy takes $850 million from Alberta families this term alongside their refusal to re-index benefit programs to inflation. This has real consequences. This year alone, the average family of four will lose $400 dollars in income. A senior couple will lose $350 dollars and Albertans on AISH, the most vulnerable among us, will lose $1,000 dollars. That is shameful considering the surplus we are seeing today,” Notley said.
“The UCP’s jobs projection has been revised down in their last three budgets and today their forward projection is still 138,000 jobs short of what they promised they would create before the end of their term,” Notley said “And when it comes to big ideas for the future of our economy, things like geothermal exploration, hydrogen development and energy storage this budget offers lip-service, at best. If the UCP took these priorities seriously, there would be some acknowledgement of the need to invest in them. We are way behind.”
The UCP continues to push forward with a reckless experiment in moving surgeries into private, for-profit facilities. This approach is built on a Saskatchewan model that has led to some of the longest wait-times in Canada.
In education, there will be 1,000 fewer teachers in classrooms, and the UCP refuses to disclose how many more students will enter the school system this year.
“The bottom line is this: Families under pressure won’t find relief in this budget,” Notley said. “Instead, they will continue to see the bills pile up every month. Albertans deserved a budget that ensured they could get a family doctor, an ambulance and a hospital bed when they need it. Albertans deserved a budget that made real investments in the future of their children.”
Notley says Albertans deserved a budget squarely focused on creating a diversified economy so families could get ahead even as the world is changing.
“Albertans deserved a budget that helped their budget,” Notley said. “Instead, the pressure is building and the Premier is focused only on his own leadership campaign. Albertans deserve better.”