March 31, 2019 5:36 pm
Updated: April 2, 2019 4:50 pm

Notley unveils Alberta NDP election platform

WATCH: The Alberta NDP released its platform Sunday. While it contained many programs that were previously announced, there were some new commitments. But the party is also making another issue a big deal. Julia Wong explains.

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Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley said her party’s election platform prioritizes the economy and Alberta families and builds on the work of the past four years.

The party’s election platform was unveiled Sunday afternoon at the Belgravia Community League in Edmonton.

“It’s a concrete plan to create jobs, to diversify our economy and the energy sector and to defend the everyday services that people rely on,” Notley told the room full of supporters.

“Our first commitment is to supercharge energy upgrading here in Alberta,” Notley said. “Our plan will attract 70,000 new jobs and $75 billion in private-sector investment over the course of the next 10 years.”

Notley told a crowd of supporters that the provincial deficit is coming down faster than expected and the party plans to balance the budget by 2023-24. The plan includes billions in new funding for health care, education and child care.

Some of the highlights of the NDP platform include:

  • $81 million for farmers from the carbon tax to transition to lower energy and energy-efficient equipment
  • Hometown Alberta, a program to upgrade hockey arenas, swimming pools and recreation centres
  • Attainable Homes Alberta, a program to help families buy their first house through down payment assistance and access to modest mortgages
  • Launching a lawsuit against the manufacturers of opioid medication to recoup the costs of the opioid crisis in Alberta
  • $110 million to remove all drug co-pay programs for seniors earning less than $75,000 per year
  • $90 million to lower hospital wait times including the addition of new ER procedures
  • A 10-year strategy to implement high-speed internet for every Albertan
  • Funding for security at places of worship that have experienced hate crimes
  • A pilot program for two storefront mental health clinics in Edmonton and Calgary

The NDP’s most expensive promise by far is, affordable childcare at $500 million. The plan includes the creation of 13,000 new childcare spaces to meet demand.

READ MORE: Alberta $25-a-day daycare expands to 100 more locations; 6,000 spaces created

The plan relies in large part on an expected rise in government revenues and oilsands investments to pay for over $3 billion in new initiatives over the next five years.

Notley went on to criticize the UCP’s platform, released on Saturday, taking aim at Jason Kenney’s proposed corporate tax cut and plan and intention to eliminate the climate leadership plan.

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“His plan to remove the cap on emissions from the oilsands, his plan to move back to coal, this will actually make our kids less healthy,” Notley said. “It’s a plan where the rich get richer,” Notley said. It’s a compilation of failed old ideas that got Alberta into a whole heap of trouble in the first place.”

READ MORE: Jason Kenney and UCP promise $714M budget surplus by 2023

Notley’s NDP government did not introduce a budget for 2019-20 before calling the election two weeks ago, but it did put out a long-term financial outlook last month as part of its latest budget update.

In that report, it stated that even when keeping spending growth at three per cent per year, a growing and diversifying economy coupled with low taxes will deliver a $900-million budget surplus by 2024.

LISTEN: University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe joins Danielle Smith to look at the Alberta NDP election platform

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Both the NDP and the UCP are pinning their budget-balancing promises on strong economic growth year over year. But besides that, there’s little the two sides agree on, starting with the debt level.

The debt will reach almost $57 billion this year, and the government predicts it will reach $95 billion by 2024.

READ MORE: UCP calls on Rachel Notley to come clean on Alberta election spending promises

UCP candidate Jason Nixon slammed the NDP’s platform Sunday afternoon.

“The NDP’s fiscal plan has zero credibility,” he said. “In this campaign, they’ve announced billions upon billions of new spending but they’re telling us their path to balance, announced prior to this, all the new spending still holds.”

“The reality is either the NDP will run deeper, longer deficits and bigger debt, or they’ll be hiking taxes or more likely both.”

Nixon said there is nothing in the NDP’s plan to indicate a balanced budget will actually come to fruition.

—With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Julia Wong

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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