While I don’t particularly expect my input will even slightly sway the UCP’s budgeting process, I nevertheless felt compelled to respond to the oversimplified, bare bones, three-query survey. Following are the questions the provincial government is asking Albertans, along with the responses I submitted.
Remember, you’ve got until Friday, Feb. 7 at 4:30 p.m. to share your suggestions, too! The survey can be found online at www.alberta.ca/budget-consultation.aspx.
What spending priorities do you think government should focus on?
Education, health care, infrastructure (especially broadband internet initiatives in rural areas that remain trapped in the digital dark age with lost economic potential). Help Albertans make their homes and businesses more energy efficient, support more arts and culture, explore the potential for geothermal energy, and protect the environment.
Where do you think government could find savings?
Immediately pull the plug on the oil and gas propaganda machine, I mean, energy war room, and cease and desist unconstitutional attacks on free speech by ending the Orwellian inquiry into so-called anti-Alberta activities. Boom, $30-plus million saved right there alone that could now help people on AISH.
Stopping with all of these stacked panels whose findings are a foregone conclusion would also undoubtedly save plenty of funds as well.
Additionally, trickledown economics do not and never have worked, well, not for anyone other than already wealthy. Profitable billion-dollar corporations that are largely foreign owned don’t need tax breaks. If you’re going to provide tax relief, give the middle class and small business community a break. They actually spend money back into the economy, unlike the international conglomerates that lay people off after taking our money to a tax shelter, showering shareholders with dividends, or awarding their CEOs obscene bonuses that most of us won’t earn in lifetime.
How should government support job creation and economic growth?
As stated above, provide tax breaks for the middle class and small as well as medium businesses, not billion-dollar corporations.
And instead of distributing wealth upwards, raise taxes on the one per cent and use that revenue to invest in Albertans’ education, health care, and infrastructure. If we really want to incentivize new businesses to invest in our province, we need a well-educated, healthy, happy labour force with good roads and bridges to get them to work.
After all, if we don’t want to invest in our own province, why should a major enterprise?
Lastly, this survey is missing an important question: how do I think the government could generate additional revenue?
A PST, while unpopular, would alone provide the funding we need to ensure the quality of our already-strained public services does not deteriorate further. Stop trying to convince us that maintaining funding amounts to anything less than a cut when our population is growing and inflation keeps rising.
Simon Ducatel is the editor of the Sundre Round Up.