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Why the Provincial debt matters to families

By: Rob Anderson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jul 17, 2014 10:23 am

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As a parent, the issue of the ballooning provincial debt is not just a financial issue, it’s a moral one.

Almost 10 years ago to the day, then premier Ralph Klein announced that Alberta’s debt had been ‘paid in full’ and that the days of government debt-financing in Alberta were at an end.

We would now be able to focus our efforts on building infrastructure, strong core social programs and growing the Heritage Fund to forever replace our province’s reliance on non-renewable resources.

Ten years passed. Ten years of unprecedented oil and gas revenues.

Ten years of an oil- and gas-fueled economy that has become the envy of the Western Hemisphere.

And sadly, 10 years of the most inept, incompetent and downright corrupt governance this province has ever seen.

The result – Alberta is now $10 billion in debt, the Heritage Fund is worth less today than it was in 1976 when first established by Premier Lougheed, provincial spending is far and away the highest in the country, and social programs and infrastructure suffer due to prolific ongoing waste and mismanagement.

The current group of PC MLAs look like they have decided to appoint Jim Prentice as their last hope of political survival. Mr. Prentice, announced early in his leadership campaign that he would continue to support Alison Redford’s debt-financing plans, which will see our province reach over $21 billion in debt by the next time we go to the polls to cast our votes in 2016.

By that time, taxpayers will be forking out over $1.4 billion each year just to finance the provincial debt.

That’s $1.4 billion less for teachers, needed surgeries or care for the vulnerable. Not to mention the risk associated with spiraling debt when our province relies so heavily on such a volatile revenue stream to pay our bills. If oil prices were to drop to below $80 per barrel, we would have to borrow $5 to $10 billion each year just to pay our regular bills.

What a horrendous and selfish legacy to leave our children. What good are schools or hospitals if we have no money to pay for the teachers or doctors needed to staff them?

Under a Wildrose government, this kind of political gamesmanship with taxpayers’ dollars will come to an end.

We will balance the budget by protecting the jobs of our front- line workers (nurses, teachers, social workers, police, etc) while cutting all corporate hand outs, waste, mismanagement and executive pay and perks.

We can balance the budget, build what we need, provide quality government services, and still have enough left over for a responsible savings plan each and every year.

But one thing is certain; it will take a new government to do so.


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