Should rural municipalities who didn’t vote for NDP MLA’s in their riding be punished?
According to the 2016 Alberta Budget the answer to this question is a resounding yes. The Provincial government failed rural Alberta with the release of Bill 6 and again with the recent release of the budget.
The vast majority of elected NDP MLA’s hail from urban centres and so it appears this is where a large portion of the budget will go while rural centres who voted Wildrose and P.C. are left to suffer alongside their decaying infrastructure for the next three years.
Aside from the blatant disregard for rural infrastructure, health care and education shown by the NDP government – the Carbon Tax is undoubtedly the elephant in every rural room. The Carbon Tax will put a heavy strain on towns, counties and school boards, as they will face higher than anticipated fuel and transportation costs once the tax is implemented.
Jason Nixon, MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, Official Opposition Whip who also acts as the party’s Democracy and Accountability Advocate explained it would be the Carbon Tax that hits rural Alberta the hardest.
“The fact is everything from gas right at the pump to the cost of groceries is going to go up because of the Carbon Tax and it is going to cost every family more money. That is the last thing we should be doing when thousands of people are losing their jobs,” said Nixon. “What was clear in the budget was there is a lot of money going to urban centres while Sylvan Lake struggling to get their urgent care centre, in Sundre they are shutting down half a hospital and in Eckville we are trying to get doctors to already use the facilities present. There didn’t seem to be much investment into those types of unique municipal issues from the government.”
Betty Osmond, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Sylvan Lake, stated the Town is unsure at this time just how great of impact the new tax will have on the Town, adding they will be calculating the costs in the near future. Osmond explained they were however happy to see the carbon rebates will be going towards supporting lower and middle-income families and are also pleased with the increase of funding to Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) across the province.
“We know there are many people in town going through hard times right now and it’s good to know there are programs in place – we’ve never needed them more,” said Osmond adding she hopes to see the Province instate a program to help municipalities to cover the increased costs incurred from the Carbon Tax.
Local MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Don MacIntyre said his greatest concern from this budget was the sheer level of debt.
“I knew it was going to be bad. I was aware last fall their revenue projections were based on myth. Their revenue and cost projections were fiction,” said MacIntyre.“They have shown a distinct lack of knowledge about how the economy functions.”
“We’re talking about tens of billions of dollars – they’re not fiction and the people who are going to get hit hardest are the people who socialist governments claim they help the most, which are the elderly, the poor and all of our unemployed individuals currently.”
Nixon agreed the debt level is staggering.
“With that being said, even the Wildrose acknowledge we would have had to borrow some money to help Alberta get through this tough economic time but no one proposed $50-60 billion worth of debt on our end,” said Nixon. “In this budget they are borrowing to keep the lights on. It’s not just to put in infrastructure project to try to spur the economy or deal with the infrastructure hole left by the P.C.’s and that’s scary because eventually some one is going to have the deal with that mess to get our fiscal house in order.”
“I think all of our constituents know that if you are borrowing money to keep the power going at your farm or business then that’s a really bad sign and it’s no difference for a province, it’s just much bigger numbers.”