Posted on Feb 23, 2021
WHAT ARE YOU HIDING? NOTLEY CALLS FOR UCP TO BE TRANSPARENT WITH BUDGET
EDMONTON - Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is calling on Finance Minister Travis Toews to get serious with the challenges facing Alberta, and follow the long standing tradition of providing transparent access to officials from all government ministries as part of the Official Opposition budget lock-up.
Since they were first elected, the UCP government has demonstrated unprecedented levels of secrecy with respect to the Budget, including cutting deliberations in half for Budget 2020 in an extraordinary break from historical precedent.
“This budget will impact the lives of every single Albertan, and it deserves a detailed analysis,” said Notley. “In the midst of a pandemic, as this government plans to fire 11,000 healthcare workers, it is without precedent that the Official Opposition would be barred from asking questions of the Ministry of Health.”
While in government, the Alberta NDP offered budget briefing documents at 8:30am, and access to officials right across government, to all parties in the legislature. This format followed historical precedent, in which the media was likewise provided access to documents in the early morning with access to officials from every ministry. The UCP, in contrast, is only offering a 10:30 a.m. start and access to only Treasury Board and Finance officials.
“This is a Premier who has the lowest trust ratings in Canada and it’s all because he continues to play games like this,” said Notley. “At a time when Albertans are looking to see how this budget will impact their lives, the UCP is doing everything in their power to hide that information for them. What are they hiding and why are they so afraid of Albertans getting a clear look at their budget?”
Since taking office in 2019, the UCP Government and Jason Kenney have done much to earn the title “Most Secretive Provincial Government in Canada”. Some examples are:
- Fired the Election Commissioner in the middle of an investigation into the UCP’s leadership race;
- Seized control of teachers pensions without any consultation with teachers;
- Removed protections for the Eastern Slopes by rescinding the 1976 Coal Policy late Friday afternoon of a May long-weekend;
- Created an disastrous, embarrassing Energy War Room that is exempt from Freedom of Information laws;
- Cut the debate on the 2020 budget in half;
- Suspended environmental monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Blocked the public disclosure of Dr. Hinshaw’s COVID-19 prevention recommendations;
- Delayed the report into the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Changed the payment days for Albertans with disabilities to make their financial statements look better;
- Blocked the release of Cabinet Documents related to the Keystone XL deal;
- Adjourned the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee rather than debated their decision to rescind the 1976 Coal policy;
- Broke the law by failing to publicly disclose the Heritage Funds financials, in accordance with the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund Act.