The Alberta NDP is running the government very strategically

Dan Dibbelt
Smoky River Regional
Economic Development
I am not saying I agree with all their policies and programs, but I am saying they are wise in the way and order they introduce them. Their first couple years in power we have seen them introduce polices and programs that are not very favorable to many Albertans.

Bill 6 which surrounded farm safety was pushed through with little consultation with Alberta producers. As I have previously said, I believe all producers believe in farm safety, they just may not believe in the way in which the government introduced it.

Carbon tax is just starting to be felt by Albertans and we are slowly seeing the full impact. The other day I filled the gas tank of my car and for the first time ever, the total exceeded fifty dollars, almost sixty dollars to be exact.

My utilities bills are on the rise and while you could argue it is not a huge amount compared to the total bill it is, however, compared to the actual portion that amounts to the energy used.

The pending closure of the coal industry is going to hurt all Albertans in the pocket book, but especially so, the communities with a coal plant in or near their community. The NDP is dishing out the pain in the early years of their reign. – Like they should. Now comes the time for the goodies.

In the recent throne speech, the NDP have started to role out those goodies, starting with the reduction of school fees. They promised that during the election and it is good to see them deliver. And in good political fashion I suspect in the coming two years leading to the next provincial election they will continue to dish out the goodies, hoping the electorate will forget the pain of the early years.

I’m not sure we will. Alberta’s economic woes are due to many factors including the decline in the oil market. It does not matter which political party got in to power a couple years ago, times would still be tough. The NDP have however introduced polices and programs that may just add to our economic woes.

Some of these initiatives will carry on over the next couple years. The increase in minimum wage will continue until 2019 when minimum wage will reach fifteen dollars. By that time we will have seen a number of rural businesses already closed, and with them the loss of many rural jobs, unemployed people and business people who have lost their livelihood that will vote.

And the cost of living in Alberta just seems to be getting more and more expensive. The other day my home insurance bill came in and it has almost doubled. That is no fault of the NDP, rather catastrophes such as the Slave Lake and Fort McMurray fires and the flood that hit southern Alberta. Just the same my bill is about seven hundred dollars more a year.

Add to that higher gas prices, higher utility bills and higher cost for goods and it is going to be a couple expensive years. I suspect with the decline of coal, things will get worse.

What scares me most however is the bill for the debt that Alberta is accumulating. We presently sit at about ten billion dollars and projections run as high as fifty billion by the end of 2019. Assuming Alberta continues to grow to say five million by then, that equates to about ten thousand dollars for every Albertan or about fifty thousand for a family of five. I am not sure how we are going to pay that off.

How are we going to continue to pay for roads, schools and hospitals? Is the province trying to catch up with Ontario, which has one third the population of California but twice the debt load? And will the massive debt load further impact Alberta’s ability to attract investors?

The biggest challenge for Alberta is that other provinces could always count on equalization payments to help fund them. Alberta won’t have that luxury.

It is good to see some of the positive initiatives promised coming from the Alberta government even if it is just to prepare for the next provincial election – I’m just not sure how long we will be able to afford them.

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