Overview: What's the issue?
Why you should care
Cutting public services will unravel the fabric that supports our citizens, economy and communities
Some people would have us believe that strong public services are a luxury — one we can only afford in good times. But the truth is that a modern economy like ours can’t function or flourish without a comprehensive network of well-funded public services.
Whether it’s hospitals or schools; roads or social services; universities or municipalities, the public sector provides the services that individuals and families need to cope with and succeed in a challenging and competitive world. They also provide the goods, services and infrastructure that Alberta businesses need to remain competitive and profitable.
To put it another way: public services are an integral part of the social and economic fabric of our province — the fabric that supports individuals and families; strengthens our economy and binds our communities together. Cuts that unravel the fabric weaken us all and undermine our future prospects.
So are cuts the answer every time the economy slows or stumbles? Almost every government and most economists in the developed world would say “no.” In fact, most of them would argue,and we would agree, that cutting back on services that could help bring a more prosperous future is a clear example of being “penny wise and pound foolish.”
Over the past year, more than $500 million dollars has been cut from vital public services in Alberta — and as much as $2 billion may be cut in 2010.
Government officials say the cuts won’t affect the quality of public services or programs. But Albertans know better. Our health care, education and post-secondary education systems are all at risk. In addition, our seniors, people with mental illness, people with developmental disabilities and other vulnerable members of our society are increasingly being left to fend for themselves.
Is this the Alberta we really want?
Cuts are unnecessary
We still have no debt and the temporary cash shortfalls that have been caused by lower commodity prices can easily be covered by the billions that have been squirreled away in rainy-day funds.
Alberta also has, by far, the lowest tax rates in the country for both individuals and corporations. As a result, we have far more options when it comes to finding new revenue sources than other jurisdictions.
In other words, there is absolutely no good reason for the government to be considering deep cuts – especially when those cuts will cause real pain for Albertans and will almost certainly weaken our province’s future economic prospects.
We think knee-jerk budget cuts are the wrong way to deal with Alberta’s current fiscal and economic challenges.
Solutions: A 'high road' vision for Alberta
If we really want to strengthen both our economy and our quality of life, then we have to be prepared to invest in our people, our services and our infrastructure. That means making smart decisions about spending on public services. It also means being willing to raise the revenue necessary to properly fund high quality services.
Take action: Join together, Alberta!
Together, we can build a better and more sustainable future for our growing province.