Saturday, April 25, 2015

Questions for the Candidates: Health, Education and Social Services

This last question is about 'HESS.'  In my view, every time our provincial government wants to tighten the belt, they start by reducing funding to Health, Education and Social Services!  Funding for these three areas is hard enough as it is, but tougher times make it almost impossible.
  • Plans for new or upgraded health facilities are put on hold or dropped completely.
  • Funds to school divisions are frozen or reduced even though student populations are ever-increasing.
  • Health workers, social workers and teachers are asked to accept reduced or frozen salaries even though their jobs are becoming more difficult.
  • Funding for new neighborhood school construction is years (sometimes decades!) behind the identified need for the facility. 
Question #5:  If your party forms Alberta's next government, how will it maintain needed funding to Health, Education, and Social Services while addressing these tough economic times?


  1. Mayor Courtman… I wish EVERY SINGLE ALBERTAN would ask this question, and be prepared to scrutinize the plans put forth by each party to more us out of our current economic challenge.

    While I believe the electorate has decided that “trust” is the key election issue, I originally believed that this very question from you would be the election issue: which party has the best – most viable, most sustainable, most realistic – plan. And maybe these two are really the same thing: rather than ‘what plan do we believe in’, its ‘what party do we TRUST to enact their plan’. I think that’s a very reasonable question on behalf of Albertans.

    Our PC plan, the Prentice Plan, includes economic projections that have been vetted by economists, bankers and leading financial experts. Our plan is about assuring a sustainable future for Alberta and Albertans that restricts resource price volatility on our public trust.

    I respect our plan because it creates a level of responsibility for the government to make cutbacks and access new revenue streams needed to protect our most important frontline services.

    Our plan is the right plan because it affects both “today” and “tomorrow”… for the better.

    Our plan for immediate action will:
    - Strengthen our fiscal foundation;
    - Save for the future;
    - Protect Alberta jobs;
    - Invest as we grow, including the largest school build in Canadian history; and Support Alberta’s families.

    Our long term plan to secure Alberta’s future will:
    - Diversify our economy, including a stronger focus on value-added agriculture;
    - Expand our markets;
    - Protect property rights;
    - Partner with municipalities;
    - Transform our relationship with Aboriginal people;
    - and Preserve Alberta’s environment.

    We are looking at a $7 billion deficit year-over-year due to the drop in the price of oil. We won’t be able to balance the budget with spending cuts or by revenue increased alone. We need both – and in the right balance – so we don’t tip into a recession.

    And so, in the next three years, The Prentice Plan calls for the following:
    - $8.6 billion reduction in government expenses;
    - $6.1 billion increase in revenues;
    - $3.6 billion from the Contingency Fund.

    The Prentice Plan will balance the budget by 2017, even if oil prices do not rebound.

    Over the next three years we will save more oil revenues, reduce government spending and use new revenue to break the ‘boom and bust’ cycle.

    1. Albertans will still experience the lowest personal taxes in Canada. Contrary to what our opposition is saying, here is what the cost of the new tax system for Albertans (including the gas tax and health contribution levy):
      - Individual earning $60,000: additional taxes of $161;
      - Individual earning $100,000: additional taxes of $361;
      - Couple with 2 children earning $100,000: additional taxes of $238;
      - Couple with 2 children earning $120,000: additional taxes of $288.
      For the impact on the government’s revenue, I believe this is a reasonable investment by Albertans in their annual public front line services. And it weans us off of the ‘resource royalties’ rollercoaster’…. for good!

      We will continue the lowest corporate taxes in Canada which is why business prefers to operate here. If we increase corporate taxes we WILL lose businesses and that means losing jobs.

      And The Prentice Plan is as much about protecting Albertan's jobs as anything. There is no greater driver in the economy than employment.

      There are spending cuts... that happen in a balanced and measured approach that will not upset our economy or disrupt services. We will REDUCE the size of government. These are Albertans who work in the public service. They are fellow citizens. We will take three years to do what some might like to do in three months, because every single job in this province is worth holding on to.

      Please recognize that most of the government cuts will come at the administrative, bureaucratic level. Where there truly is ‘fat’ to trim. The Prentice Plan does not include any cuts to FRONT LINE service.

      While no one welcomes higher taxes or new service fees, we need new sources of revenue. Please note that some of these fees haven’t been touched in a decade and we must assure that we are recovering our costs. And, even more notably, personal income taxes in Alberta have not increased since 1987, 28 years ago.

      You know… I've read the other plans and I’m troubled. If our economy could be protected and our future enhanced without any new tax or service fee increases... WE WOULD HAVE DONE IT!!! But it can't be done, and that's why we're having an election... to trust Albertans. To trust you to Choose Alberta’s Future.

      We have much greater detail in The Prentice Plan, the PC Alberta solution to Alberta’s current economic challenges. To see The Prentice Plan in its entirety, please check out this link:

      Thank you very much, Mayor Courtman, for your challenging questions this week. I’m sorry I didn’t find the time to respond until today, but after last night’s Candidate’s Forum in Olds, and thinking about the next one in Didsbury on Wednesday night, this information to answer your questions was at the forefront of my mind.

      If you would like to meet or chat on the phone, please let me know. I welcome the opportunity to speak with you. And hopefully I will see you tonight at the Lions Barbecue in Beiseker.

      Wade Bearchell
      PC Alberta candidate, Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills