Alberta Budget 2015: Opposition and stakeholders react
WATCH ABOVE: From health care to education, everyone will feel the impacts of this year’s budget. Fletcher Kent has reaction.
EDMONTON – Albertans will pay more get less, all to cover the government’s mistakes, according to opposition parties.
This year, the province will run a nearly $5-billion deficit, the biggest in Alberta’s recent history. Albertans will pay $1.5 billion more in taxes and fees to help make up the shortfall in the $48.3-billion budget.
Wealthier Albertans will pay progressively more income tax as the province moves away from a flat income tax. People who make more than $50,000 in taxable income will pay a health-care levy, capped at a maximum of $1,000. Taxes on fuel, liquor and tobacco will also go up at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
“Regular Alberta families, middle income families are being told they need to pay more and get less,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
“Because of them spending like drunken sailors, they’re going to make Albertans pay for their mistakes,” said Interim Wildrose Leader Heather Forsyth.
Global News has compiled reaction from political parties and other affected groups. You can read them below.
The Wildrose said the 2015 budget will cost the average family $2,500 in 59 new and increased taxes and fees.
“Mr. Prentice is making Alberta families pay the price for the PC party’s waste and mismanagement through the largest tax increase and deficit in Alberta history,” Forsyth said. “This budget is tough on taxpayers and easy on PC waste.
Mr. Prentice has had three budgets in three months, and this is just his pre-election budget. The real budget will come after the election and will either include meaningful reductions to spending that the Wildrose stands for, or a PST that Prentice has waffled on packaged with higher taxes.” Forsyth said. “If this is the real budget, and not just a pre-election ploy, Prentice should debate it, pass it, and not break our fixed-election law until 2016.”
The party said there are no spending reductions to the premier’s office budget in 2015.
“Higher taxes for families, billions of dollars ripped out of the economy and we are seeing no real measures to get a hold on out-of-control PC spending,” Forsyth said.
The NDP said the budget asks Albertans to pay more out of pocket for vital services.
“The PCs have not only proposed a Waiting Room Tax—today they’ve added a Driving Tax, a Mortgage Tax and a Marriage Tax,” said Notley. “This government is willing to do anything to ensure the largest corporations continue to enjoy tax holidays and so they’re balancing the budget on the backs of regular, hard-working Alberta families.”
The party said the budget shows a total cut of approximately $1 billion to the overall health-care budget, including more than $300 million to patient care and $60 million to seniors drug benefits.
“Right now people are waiting up to 70 hours to be admitted to hospital. Kid’s surgeries are being cancelled because there isn’t any room for them and hundreds of seniors are trapped in the hospital waiting for a long term care bed. Instead of doing the right thing and fixing our health care system, this government’s priority is preserving tax breaks for the most profitable corporations.”
The NDP said classroom supports are being cut and there is no money to hire new teachers for the 12,000 new students expected this year, pushing up class sizes.
“Instead of investing in the vital public services Albertans rely on, Prentice and the PCs are slashing funding to education and health care. They’re asking Alberta families to pay more and get less,” said Notley.
“It is particularly insulting that while they work so hard to defend profitable corporations, they are cutting close to $60 million from child protective services. This clearly shows that this government has the wrong priorities.”
WATCH: NDP leader Rachel Notley weighs in on Alberta Budget 2015
Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann said the budget fails to reflect the true priorities of a new generation of Albertans who are driving the province, “and it leaves those who built it scrambling for spare change.”
“Albertans will have their pockets picked by a plethora of new user fees and taxes. We will no longer be nickeled-and-dimed at every corner, but loonie-and-toonied from the cradle to the grave,” Swann said in a statement Thursday.
“Albertan will pay more on their income, for health care, at the pumps, and in the bars. Large corporations and the wealthy are getting off too easy while the government shifts the burden onto working families and middle and lower income earners. Our provincial savings will be slowly depleted and we will be plunged into a $31.2 billion deep pit of debt by 2018.”
Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation:
“I think it would be a shorter list to list off the taxes that didn’t go up,” said Scott Hennig.
“We have new health care premiums, we have new tax brackets on the income tax side, we have fuel tax going up by 44 per cent, tobacco taxes, liquor taxes, insurance taxes, even a decrease in your donation tax credit if you make a donation to charities. The list goes on and on.”
“It’s going to add up this year to about $1.5 billion, next year $2.2 billion, in additional taxes from Alberta taxpayers.”
“There was no significant reduction in spending,” added Hennig. “It’s minuscule.”
WATCH: Scott Hennig weighs in on Alberta Budget 2015
Alberta School Boards Association:
“It’s really up to boards now,” said ASBA President Helen Clease. “If you look at the class size, I believe the budget said it was going to increase by 1.5 … and high schools are sitting at 23-something for the ideal number [of students]. Well, we know of high schools sitting at 40 in a classroom, so try to squeeze another child into that.”
Alberta Union of Provincial Employees:
“A cut is a cut, especially when you’ve got a province that’s increasing in population, hasn’t kept up with the demand in population,” said AUPE President Guy Smith.
“Just holding the line on budget is a cut and here we have actual cuts on positions on the staffing levels. How are we going to provide services to the people in this province in one of the richest jurisdictions in North America?”
Edmonton Public School Board:
“At first glance this is not a good news budget for education,” said EPSB Chair Michael Janz. “We are quite concerned.”
“We see that the amount of resources that we have for next year for our schools is going to be reduced by 2.7 per cent.”
Janz said a 2.7 per cent funding reduction will impact maintenance and renewal of older schools. Janz also said the province’s failure to fund enrolment growth is “quite concerning for our district.” There are 2,000 additional students registered to start school in September, he said.
“We will be funded for the same number of teachers so those additional 2,000 students have not been funded and this is a major concern.”
“We see that there is going to be more pressures and more strain placed on our schools and on our teachers and this is concerning going forward. We are concerned this is not sustainable for our students.”
Janz said Edmonton Public has seen an increase of 10,000 students in the last four years and the district is expecting a total of 92,000 students this fall.
The EPSB chair said he is pleased with the commitment to pay for new schools with capital funding.
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