Recently Premier Ed Stelmach gave a televised address explaining our government’s four-point economic recovery plan to get Alberta back in the black. Our plan will return Alberta to a surplus position and have us saving for the future within three years.
Firstly, the plan calls for limiting government spending and living within our means. This includes ministries reviewing program spending line by line and implementing a two-year wage freeze for civil service managers.
Secondly, we will continue to invest in public infrastructure to keep tens of thousands of Albertans working at a time when construction costs are 40 per cent lower.
People are continuing to move to our province, and we want to ensure Alberta has the schools, hospitals, roads and public transit needed to remain an economic driver and to maintain our great quality of life.
Thirdly, we will use cash reserves, such as the $17 billion Sustainability Fund, to cover revenue shortfalls and protect key programs during the downturn.
Since the last recession, our government paid off a $23-billion-dollar debt and saved another $25 billion dollars for times like these. Furthermore, we plan to issue new Alberta Capital Bonds to promote savings and strengthen our province’s balance sheet. Alberta Capital Bonds will enable Albertans to invest directly in the province’s future and help build communities.
Fourthly, our government is committed to ensuring Alberta industries are globally competitive and continue to attract investment to develop our resources. To ensure we remain competitive, the Alberta government has kept taxes low and the premier stated we will not raise taxes. You can’t tax your way out of a recession and we will ensure Alberta maintains the most competitive tax rates in Canada.
Albertans expect value for their tax dollars, especially when it comes to health care. Through innovation and the leadership of health care professionals we will strengthen public health care by raising performance outcomes, improving access and shortening waiting lists. Alberta is second only to Newfoundland in per- capita health care spending, but our performance outcomes do not equal our spending. While the foundations of our publicly funded system are good, there are things we must improve or the system will not meet the needs of a growing and aging population.
We are also committed to ensuring we have a healthy environment for future generations. To this end, oil sands development will be managed wisely, in an environmentally responsible way. Alberta has led the way in setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions by large industry, and we are leading the way in developing carbon capture and storage technology. This technology offers the best option for making a dramatic reduction in emissions.
Education, innovation and science will lie at the heart of our future prosperity. Institutions like the new Mount Royal and Grant MacEwan universities will play a key role in developing Alberta’s greatest natural resource – our people. We will continue to strengthen education and workforce training; investing in the skills Alberta will need to compete in the 21st century and sustain our prosperity in an increasingly competitive world.
Our long-term economic plan will guide Alberta to recovery. We must continue to make the necessary investments in our province and our people to set the stage for when economic growth returns. Taking these steps today will help grow our economy tomorrow.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact one of my constituency offices at Stettler 403-742-4284; Hanna 403-854-4333; Drumheller 403-823-8181 or in Edmonton 780-427-5041.