Alberta NDP promises balanced budget later than UCP, but says UCP math is wrong
Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, March 31, 2019 7:46PM EDT
EDMONTON -- Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley promised to balance the province's budget by 2023-24 as she unveiled her party's election platform Sunday, while also pledging to expand $25 per day child care, build long-term care beds for seniors and construct new schools.
Notley's date for balancing the books is a year later than what's promised by her principal rival, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney, who released his platform a day earlier.
But Notley said Kenney's math doesn't add up, noting the UCP plan saves money by scrapping a government-supported program to move oil by rail until new pipelines are built, but then doesn't record the revenue the province would have earned from that oil.
"He's booked the cancelled cost but he's failed to book the lost revenue. As such, there's a $2.5 billion math mistake at the heart of his platform," Notley said as she released the NDP policy document at a community hall in front of supporters and their families.
The NDP says the $25 per day child-care plan expands on a pilot project Notley started, and Notley said it will apply to every child-care space in the province. She also said 13,000 additional spaces will be created to meet growing demand and help women participate in the workforce.
The party's platform further pledges to build 70 new schools, hire 1,000 new teachers and support staff, and eliminate tuition for high school upgrading and English language programs.
It also promises to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built, which Notley said she has been fighting for -- despite UCP claims to the contrary.
"I haven't been shouting, I haven't been stomping my feet. Rather, we have been working strategically to build a national consensus with determination and with conviction," Notley said.
"And today, a majority of Canadians support a pipeline that we all own -- a pipeline that will get built."
The UCP responded that the NDP promised in the last election campaign to balance the budget in 2018, which was then delayed to 2019 and is now being pushed back to 2023.
Kenney has promised a $714-million surplus by 2023.
Jason Nixon, the UCP's house leader, said the NDP will run deeper deficits or hike taxes, and most likely will do both.
"They didn't include the carbon tax in 2015, only to force one on Albertans months later," Nixon told reporters on Sunday.
"So what will Albertans learn about a re-elected NDP's plan after election day?"
Voting day is set for April 16.
The NDP platform also notes a made-in-Alberta plan to upgrade its resources in the province, which it says will attract $75 billion in private-sector investment and create 75,000 jobs.
As well, the platform promises to ban programs that claim to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity, and it says it will give the election commissioner more latitude to report on investigations.
An NDP government would also continue to work towards reducing greenhouse gasses and create a provincial hate crimes unit.
"Four years ago, Albertans put an end to 44 years of one-party rule and asked me and my team to focus on what matters -- good jobs, good schools, good hospitals in a more diversified and resilient economy," Notley said, referring to the 2015 election that ended Progressive Conservative rule stretching back to 1971.
"We've made good progress."