By Letter to the Editor on January 4, 2020.
A recent poll for the Canadian Press conducted by Leger shows that Premier Kenney’s approval rating has dropped significantly since being elected. Once the third-most popular premier nationwide, he is now the third least. Not surprisingly, given his firing of the election commissioner, tax cuts to large corporations and the wealthy, decreases in program funding in agriculture, secondary education and municipal funding, job cuts and wage reductions in the public sector and attacks on public pensions.
Albertans have been down this road before (a bumpy ride indeed given the lack of infrastructure funding under our previous Conservative tyranny) and our health-care and education sectors paid an egregious price from which we still have not recovered.
Kenney’s latest assault on Alberta’s most vulnerable citizens is aimed at our seniors. His decision to remove spousal and dependent coverage from the Seniors Benefit Plan will mean that thousands of Albertans on fixed incomes will have to pay out of pocket for their prescription drugs.
Albertans who survived the three-decade Klein debacle learned a very costly economic lesson. The public sectors suffered years of neglect and abuse so that Alberta’s Conservative government could boast that they were able to eliminate the province’s deficit and ultimately its debt. But what did they actually achieve in those extremely lean and trying years? When they finally announced that they had achieved their short-sighted goals, they discovered that their austere budgeting had created internal havoc. The highways were in complete disrepair. The hospitals were overcrowded, outdated and inefficient. And the public education system was suffering from a lack of qualified staff, overcrowded classrooms and outdated decaying educational facilities.
That is the province that Klein and his Conservative cronies created. And how did the Conservatives make use of the fail-safes established by their predecessors? Specifically the Alberta Heritage Fund! They could have managed the billions in oil revenues like the Norwegians did and have ended up will trillions in revenue. But they squandered most of these dividends by making questionable investments and establishing even more questionable priorities.
Perhaps, if anything, this underlines the difference between government which works to take care of its citizens and one that tends to value only the richest and greediest of its advocates.