Budget building an economy that works for everyone

By Marg McCuaig-Boyd, MLA for Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley

After the worst recession in a generation, Alberta‘s economy is recovering. We see the signs in
Grande Prairie and the Peace region every day, and provincewide Alberta created nearly 90,000
jobs last year. Jobs are up, the deficit is down, but there’s more work to do.

That’s why it’s critical that Budget 2018 maps out a recovery that’s built to last. One that diversifies
our economy, protects vital public serves and takes prudent steps to contain costs as we return to
balanced budgets. Our madein-Alberta plan will help grow and diversify the economy and the energy
sector to build a more resilient Alberta that’s less exposed to the boom-and-bust roller coaster that
conservatives have had us on for generations.

So if Grande Prairie-Smoky MLA Todd Loewen, wants to talk about responsibility as he did in his
comments to the Daily Herald-Tribune recently, perhaps he would like to elaborate on the UCP’s
reckless plans. All the conservatives are proposing so far is a $700 million tax cut for the richest one
per cent of Albertans.

Those policies combined with others would blow a $5 billion hole in the budget. The only way the
conservatives could make up this difference is big cuts to health care and education. That means
skyrocketing class sizes, longer emergency room wait times -making working Albertans pay the
price for their plan.

Where would long-term infrastructure projects like Highway 40, Highway 43X, and the Peace River
bridge be in this plan? What about financial support for Grande Prairie Regional College to begin
granting degrees on a path to becoming a university? How about the new K-9 school in the growing
O’Brien Lake West neighbourhood? These are important initiatives for the region and were made a
priority by the NDP government.

What about the $25/day child care pilot at GPRC? Or the support for Seven Generations through a
tax credit meant to encourage growth? The short answer - they would be gone, inflicting a lot of pain
just so they could balance the budget one year sooner. That’s no way to build an economy that
works for everyone. We’re focused on making life better for regular Albertans, supporting good jobs
in a more diverse economy, and ensuring the recovery reaches all Albertans.

This means major support for energy diversification, so we can build on our strengths and develop
our oil and gas into higher-value products before shipping them. It makes good economic sense, and
creates good jobs like the ones at Tradesmen Enterprises in Grande Prairie, which is finalizing a contract to build components for a petrochemical complex under construction near Edmonton.

We’ve protected services families rely on, like health care and education, and taken steps to make
life more affordable. These significant investments during the recession are what contributed to the
economic recovery we’re seeing now -a recovery that would be put at risk by the UCP plan for
massive cuts. Our plan worked, and our path to balancing the budget by 2023 demonstrates that we
will eliminate the deficit without extreme and risky cuts to programs and services.

That’s how we’re ensuring this recovery is built to last for everyday families across this province.

First published April 3, 2018, in the Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune