Budget Low Lights — How Jason Kenney’s Budget Hurts Everyone

The Fall 2019 Budget has a number of implications for many Albertans. CUPE AB’s Communication team has put together a list of many of the ways it will be affecting us, our family and friends, our neighbours and communities. Original Text here

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Budget low lights – how Jason Kenney’s budget hurts everyone

During the provincial election, Jason Kenney promised to ‘maintain or increase’ public services, lower taxes and bring down the deficit. His first budget breaks all three of those promises.

Here are some of the details.

Pensions

  • The provincial budget takes control of public service pension plans away from workers. The UCP wants to make decisions about benefits and investments of the plan. Just this year, workers gained full partnership in the management of our pensions (like every other province). Jason Kenney’s budget wipes out that gain and grabs power over our retirement funds.

Education

  • Base instruction funding for grades 1-3 students in metro/urban areas is cut from $8,201 to $6,883, a 16% cut.
  • Funding for increased enrollment will continue this year but be stopped after that.
  • Funding for Educational Assistants (who provide help to kids with special needs) has been cut.
  • Class size reduction funding has been cut.
  • The programs to keep school fees low have been cut.

Health Care

  • A $100 million cut in funding for nurses.
  • A $90 million cut to drug coverage.
  • At least 46,000 seniors will lose drug coverage.
  • Ambulance services will be cut by $11 million.
  • Less funding for acute care services in hospitals.
  • A delay in the building of a new hospital in south Edmonton, and delays to much needed improvements at the Royal Alex and Misericordia.
  • Delay in building the new cancer center in Calgary.
  • Work on a new hospital for Red Deer has stopped.

Municipal services

  • Jason Kenney has broken his explicit platform promise to maintain the city charter with Edmonton & Calgary and the funding arrangements included it in.
  • Alberta will no longer pay property tax on its buildings, meaning a cut to municipal funding of about $81 million.
  • Municipalities with a population of under 5,000 will go from paying nothing for police services to paying 70% of those costs.
  • Funding for new LRT lines are delayed without a renewal date. Funding for Calgary’s Green line is being cut from $555 million to $75 million – putting 20,000 construction jobs at risk.
  • Badly needed Edmonton projects like the Terwillegar interchange and the Stadium Station safety upgrades are on hold.
  • Funding for flood mitigation in Calgary is being cut between $30-$50 million.
  • Other regional infrastructure projects are being cut by $50 million.
  • The amount of fines and penalties collected by municipalities has been cut and kept by the province.

Post Secondary education

  • The tuition freeze has been lifted. Tuition is expected to increase by 21% over three years.
  • The education tax credit has been removed.
  • Interest rates on student loans have been increased by 1%.
  • The Kenney government reduced funding for post-secondary institutions but maintained funding for five private, religious universities.

Taxes & fees

  • Every single Albertan will pay higher provincial taxes as Kenney has not indexed tax brackets. This is a $600 million tax increase.
  • Car insurance fees are increasing.
  • Vehicle registration and recreational vehicle registration fees are increasing.
  • Caps on electricity prices are being removed.
  • Municipal taxes will likely increase to cover lower transfers from the province.
  • New fees on tourism levies – like hotel rooms and Airbnb accommodations.
  • Increased tobacco and vaping taxes.
  • A provincial capital cost allowance has been adopted, meaning a further lowering of corporate taxes by about $370 million.
  • Fees for immigrant programs go from $0 to $500.

Assistance for low income Albertans

  • Employment and income support programs are being reduced by 20% over four years.
  • $45 million in rent supports are gone.
  • $44 million in housing supports have been cut.
  • About 165,000 families living just above the poverty line will see lower child and family benefits – including 55,000 families who will lose them completely. These benefits were credited with cutting child poverty in half in Alberta.
  • AISH funding will be de-indexed. As of January, that will mean a reduction of $30/month. In four years the difference will be closer to $120/month for people with disabilities.

Job creation

  • Elimination of the scientific research and experimental development credit, which will reduce research into new technologies.
  • Removal of the interactive digital media credit, which targeted job creation in software design.

Other

  • Putting lottery funds into general revenue. Previously these funds were used for numerous not-for-profit and charitable organizations.

What are the alternatives? Don’t we have to balance the budget?

Jason Kenney says he will balance the budget by 2023 – the exact same timeline the Notley NDP government was working toward without all the cuts. Under Kenney – the budget deficit is expected to increase by $2 billion this year!

What’s the difference?

  • The Kenney government gave a $4.7 billion tax cut to already profitable corporations. They claimed this would create jobs, but companies like Husky merely pocketed the windfall while laying off hundreds in Calgary. In fact, since the corporate tax cut came into effect on July 1, 27,000 jobs have been lost in Alberta.
  • The UCP has cut the oil by rail plan, which according to their own documents would have brought in $1 billion in revenue this year, or $8.5 billion over four years. And that’s not even factoring in the $1.5 billion it cost to cancel the contract.

The Kenney cutbacks save $1.3 billion. The corporate tax give-away cost $4.5 billion. Cancelling oil by rail cost $2.5 billion this year alone. And our deficit is growing higher under Jason Kenney than it would have been under the NDP.

These are the choices Jason Kenney has made.