Alberta NDP Opposition takes aim at UCP budget in Calgary battleground

Alberta’s NDP Opposition says the United Conservative Party’s latest budget is meant to buy votes ahead of a provincial election scheduled for May.

Speaking to reporters in Calgary — expected to be a key election battleground — NDP Leader Rachel Notley says Premier Danielle Smith cannot be trusted to follow through with budget promises.

Alberta government predicted a $ 2.4-billion surplus for the 2023-2024 budget. Some funding announcement made in the budget were a roughly five per cent increase for Kindergarten to Grade 12 operating expenses and a four per cent hike in operational health spending.

Notley criticized Smith’s government for not addressing problems in health care and education in the budget released Tuesday.

Read more: ‘Definitely an election budget’: Critics call out 2023 Alberta budget

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“When it comes to education, Danielle’s government ignored students in growing communities for years, even as the pandemic had a devastating impact on classroom learning,” she said. “Even with this budget, we are still short 3,700 teachers.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta forecasts $2.4B surplus in election year budget'

Alberta forecasts $2.4B surplus in election year budget

The province is still short on health-care funding, while Smith and the UCP are trying “to convince Albertans that the health-care crisis is over,” Notley added.

She promised modernization projects and better health care if her party were to win the next provincial election.

An Alberta NDP government would support families by funding health care and education every year and not just in the weeks leading up to an election, Notley said.

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The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services also criticized the budget, saying it did not address the needs of sexual assault survivors.

The association said that “ignoring the needs … indicates a lack of understanding of how sexual violence is linked to some of our most serious social and health problems.”

Expressing their disappointment, the group said, “It raises the question: is sexual violence a priority for this government?”

Alberta municipalities, meanwhile, applauded the budget for allocating funding to health care, education, public safety and other issues.

Read more: Alberta budget 2023: Provincial government predicting $2.4B surplus for petro-powered economy

Cathy Heron, president of Alberta municipalities, said in a briefing Wednesday the budget has “taken the temperature of Alberta and decided to address many of the emerging issues Albertans face.”

The provincial government bumped the capital funding to municipalities to $3.4 billion from the existing $2.5 billion.

“We feel a little bit more like a partner than a child of the province because the (Alberta Municipalities Measurement Index) changed,” Heron said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2023.

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&© 2023 The Canadian Press

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