On Tuesday during Global News Hour at 6:30 p.m. Alberta’s new Premier Danielle Smith will be making her first live provincial address.
It comes with a provincial election on the horizon amidst a struggling healthcare system and with eye-popping inflation hitting Albertans hard.
“It’s a critical address because it’s her first address, and probably the only address she’s going to have,” explained Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt.
“Premiers and prime ministers don’t take to the airwaves like this unless it’s significant, unless it’s important.”
According to Smith’s press secretary Rebecca Polak, she will be focusing on “an affordability crisis, delays in healthcare treatments and federal overreach.
“The Premier will be outlining the government’s plans to address these challenges,” said Polak.
Bratt expects that means putting money back into people’s pockets.
“That could include bringing back the ending of the provincial gas tax, that could include utility rebates as well as possibly direct cheques to Albertans.”
The leader of the NDP Official Opposition is asking for similar things around affordability.
“Whether it be utilities, whether it be tuition, whether it be property taxes, whether it be car insurance, whether it be higher taxes due to failing to index — all those kinds of things, she needs to talk about how she will undo the UCP record of making things more expensive for families,” Rachel Notley said.
But much of this requires money.
“The problem she’s going to run into is that Jason Kenney spent the surplus before he left. He paid down debt and he made investments in the Heritage trust fund, so the financial kitty is closed,” Bratt said.
He suggests one option to finance these promises could be borrowing against the surplus Alberta is projecting for the spring of 2023.
Besides affordability, Notley also wants Smith to delve deeper into the problems plaguing healthcare – but Bratt feels that’s unlikely.
“That’s much more controversial. This should be a good news announcement,” he said.
“It’s the appearance of doing something in a tangible way that will benefit Albertans.”
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