A federal election, followed by a provincial budget – talk about an exhausting October for Albertans.
It is a lot of information to digest and clearly the rhetoric of division that was demonstrated on both sides of the recent election campaign is what we can expect to continue into the winter when it comes to how we discuss political issues in our province.
This combative refusal to debate and discuss the merits of policies, ideas and approaches and instead respond with name calling and vitriol is now the standard operating procedure for politicians. It is what we can expect when it comes to understanding and discussing the pros and cons of the 2019 provincial budget as well.
And there is a lot to discuss.
It would be a stretch to call a 2.8 per cent cut in spending over four years an austerity budget, but Albertans can expect the changes set to unfold in our lives as a result of agenda of the UCP government to be unpleasant in a variety of ways. Budget cuts affect programs and services and we still have a lot of details to go through to understand how exactly we can expect that to unfold in this province as a result of this budget.
The first key area of discontent we can reasonably predict is the proposed roll backs to public sector wages of two per cent. This is guaranteed to cause unrest with the public sector labour unions and will not only effect our lives, but puts everyday hard working Albertans in the position of making less money into the future for the same amount of work they do right now.
Ask yourself, would you take a two per cent cut in pay to help the UCP pay to balance the budget after they approved $4.7 billion corporate tax cut earlier this year?
It seems a bit counter intuitive that this government was elected promising to deliver jobs and prosperity, but now is asking nurses, teachers and other government employees to earn less. It is every day Albertans who are in the driver's seat of our economy, not corporations.
One of the reasons being used by cabinet ministers and UCP MLAs to justify this approach with labour unions is that these people make too much compared to public sector workers in other provinces.
Using other province's economic indicators as comparison for Alberta's current situation is fair, but not when this government chooses to cherry pick the facts to suit the outcomes they want. When it comes to how much Alberta's public sector earns, politicians should keep in mind the cost of living in this province when compared to other jurisdictions as well.
When this government says they stand up for Albertans, it would be great if they could clarify which ones those are, because they certainly aren’t nurses or teachers at this point.
The devil is in the details when it comes to budgets, and there are a lot of levers and pulleys for a province this size with an overall $56.5 billion operational budget.
As more information around the effects of the changes layered into this budget become available, it is important to keep in mind that 40 years of arrogance under the Progressive Conservative government came to an end when Albertans had enough. The NDP failed to find a second term because Albertans were dissatisfied with our province's economic recovery under their leadership.
The UCP can just as easily be turfed should their arrogance and inability to create prosperity for all Albertans prove too much for voters in the next election.