EDMONTON — Alberta’s NDP government tabled its first budget Tuesday, and it comes with a record $6.1 billion deficit.
People from across the province had plenty of opinions about the budget. Here are some of their reactions.
Opposition Leader Brian Jean
The Wildrose Official Opposition said the NDP’s budget is “plagued with risky economic theories” that will “plunge Alberta into the deepest level of debt in its history.”
“Welcome to the NDP. Pushing forward risky economic theories, raising record levels of taxes and still running the largest deficit in the province’s history,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said.
“Tax increases are now hitting every Albertan, the cost of government is higher than it’s ever been, and by the time the NDP are done, Alberta will be buried under billions of dollars in interest payments and every individual will have less money in their pockets.”
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Interim PC Leader Ric McIver
McIver said the NDP budget will lead to mounting debt, which will come at a price to future generations.
“This is frightening for Alberta’s grandchildren,” McIver said. “Next year alone they’re going to add $1 billion in new wages and salaries and they don’t say what they’re going to add after that in numbers of staff.”
Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann
Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann said the budget fails to address the needs of the Alberta economy.
“This is not the budget that Alberta needed,” Swann said. “We now have a massive and growing operational deficit with no action to address the root cause of the deficit. Our economy and our budget remain on the resource revenue roller coaster and we will continue to see deficits year after year.”
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson
Iveson said the dollars announced for municipalities in the short term are small, but helpful.
“There is one new announcement, though, under a new public transit initiative which there aren’t a lot of details around what that is,” Iveson said. “but it’s a sizeable amount of money, in the $300 million range, so we look forward to working with the province to define what that program is and make sure it meets the needs of , I presume, Edmontonians and Calgarians.”
READ MORE: What’s in the budget for Edmonton?
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi
Nenshi said there were no real surprises in the budget.
“This budget will have little impact on the city’s operating funding although we are pleased with the increase to Family and Community Support Services,” Nenshi said. “We remain disappointed that there is little in this budget with respect to affordable housing-which is a provincial responsibility-but we hope this will be addressed in the March 2016 budget.”
READ MORE: What’s in the budget for Calgary?
Imperial Tobacco Canada
“The recent actions of the Alberta government are very surprising and may well be counterproductive” said Eric Gagnon, head of External and Corporate Affairs for Imperial Tobacco Canada. “It banned menthol tobacco products and raised tobacco taxes to increase revenue, two measures that will not deter people from smoking, but will instead drive them to the illegal market.”
“By over-taxing the legal tobacco trade, governments put their own public health and financial objectives at risk and promote the growth of a thriving criminal industry.”
Edmonton Public School Board
“We know that Alberta is facing difficult financial times, but we are pleased to see that this budget places a high priority on education. Our Board is happy to see stable and predictable funding for education, including a three-year commitment to fund enrolment growth.”
READ MORE: Highlights from Alberta budget 2015
Alberta Teacher’s Association
“Teaching and learning conditions will be about the same as last year and better than what was proposed by the last government. But Alberta schools continue to be haunted by inadequate support for special needs students, cuts to English language learner programs and class sizes that are simply too large,” said ATA President Mark Ramsankar.
“Today’s announcements about additional funding for inclusive education, school nutrition and school fee reductions in the years ahead are positive steps towards ensuring a great school for all. But public education has been chronically underfunded, and if the government needs to raise additional revenue to fix that, then so be it.”
Alberta School Boards Association
“There were no surprises in today’s budget. At this point in time, though, we see increases over the next two fiscal years, there is no indication as to what flexibility local school boards will have in supporting student, school and community needs,” said ASBA President Helen Clease. “We need to have that conversation.”
Watch below: Finance Minister Joe Ceci presents the 2015 Alberta Budget
Alberta Federation of Labour
“The Notley government has made the best of a bad situation,” AFL President Gil McGowan said. “They were handed a broken revenue system with tax rates way below those of any other province, and far below those Alberta had a decade ago, and they have the courage to make incremental steps towards fair taxation.
“They’re tabling this budget during one of the predictable downturns in the price of oil, and they have the foresight to respond by investing in infrastructure.”
Alberta Real Estate Association
“Today’s budget announcement was positive,” said Ian Burns, AREA’s CEO. “The budget demonstrates the province’s commitment to affordable home ownership.”
READ MORE: Winners and losers in Alberta budget 2015
Momentum, which offers support to people living in poverty, applauded the introduction of the Alberta Child Benefit.
“An Alberta Child Benefit is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty because it puts money directly in the pockets of families that need it,” said Momentum Executive Director Jeff Loomis. “We are excited about the opportunity to meaningfully reduce child poverty in our province.”
Alberta Ready-Mixed Concrete Association
“Putting forward an aggressive Capital Plan at a time when resources are readily available makes sense for Alberta’s economy. An injection of capital into building Alberta’s infrastructure is just what the construction and its related industries need right now to keep Albertans employed, and the economy growing,” said ARMCA Executive Director Robin Bobocel.
“We are pleased to see that the Department of Environment is finally started to get some of the resources it needs. The previous government continually slashed the departments monitoring and enforcement budget, we are glad to this the Notley government reversing this trend,” said Mike Hudema, climate & energy campaigner with Greenpeace.
Watch below: ‘It was challenging’ Alberta finance minister says of putting together 2015 budget