The latest Alberta budget, released by the UCP government on Thursday, drew concerns from the two big cities, but in the heart of UCP country — rural Alberta — many were pleased with the rollbacks.
“I was hoping the budget would be like this,” said Shell owner Guy Meunier.
He owns and operates a gas station and liquor store in Morinville, north of Edmonton. Meunier said he’s looking forward to change over the next four years and wants to see Albertans get back to work.
He’s not alone, Morinville resident Jerome Heemeryck also said he liked what he heard.
“I think the budget is a good budget. We have to cut back. People are just used to blowing money and spending money like crazy, but it’s just not there,” the senior said.
He feels the province’s top priority should be getting debt under control for future generations.
“We need to learn to live within our means. We get carried away,” he said.
Heemeryck’s one regret with the budget? How the poorest Albertans might be impacted.
“I feel sorry for the people that are on AISH,” he said. “They might need a little help.”
The mayor of Sturgeon County, Alanna Hnatiw, said the cuts were to be expected.
“I can’t say I was surprised at all. I mean, there had been several indicators that there was going to be cuts to MSI funding, which wasn’t as bad as I thought,” she said.
For the last three years, the county has been trying to work leaner, with zero per cent tax increases.
“We all have to tighten our belts a little bit,” she said.
“Sturgeon County, just shortly after the election in 2017, undertook an organizational review, because we knew we had to become more efficient. We didn’t need to wait for a provincial government to tell us that.”
There are some key projects the mayor hopes won’t be axed, including the $90-million Vinca Bridge. It’s a critical transportation link for heavy and oversized loads through Alberta’s industrial heartland.
“So whether they’re building roads and bridges, hospitals or schools, that’s important work, despite a downturn in the economy, that has to move forward.”
While there’s optimism following the budget, there’s still fear that cuts, in theory, are far more appealing than they are in reality.
“I’m concerned just about the level of change. It’s hard for people to adjust, especially in Alberta. We have been a ‘have province’ for quite some time,” Hnatiw said.