By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on October 25, 2019.
The last month has been jam-packed in Lethbridge. I was able to attend the official launch of the Community Foundation’s Vital Signs report, the Climate Strike outside of city hall, the University of Lethbridge’s Arts and Science Scholarship Dinner honouring Dr. Dennis Connolly, and the university’s fall convocation. At each of these events I spoke with many individuals who had concerns about different aspects of Jason Kenney’s budget.
I spoke with teachers and parents whose classrooms and students have already been affected. I spoke with people concerned about how the budget will affect university and college students’ tuition. I spoke with health-care and social workers concerned about their organizations being able to provide the level of care and treatment their patients and clients need. All of these comments were echoes of what we heard in our several Budget Town Halls, which we wrapped up at the beginning of October.
It’s helpful to remember that budgets reflect priorities. Governments fund their priorities through the budget. In this case, the Kenney government prioritized giving 15 per cent of its spending money to profitable corporations, and to give $30 million to a new propaganda office. I believe the priority should be diversifying and growing an >economy where ordinary people can get ahead, so we can pay for things like health care, education, seniors care, child care, supports for people with disabilities and protecting the environment. I will continue to stand up for those priorities in the Legislature.
Over the summer, it became clear to me that >Downtown Lethbridge small businesses were having a difficult time responding to >a concerted fear and smear campaign that was keeping people from shopping there. Downtown Lethbridge is full of great places to eat, shop and find cool, locally produced and sourced gifts for the holiday season. Over the past few months, I was alarmed to see people spread misinformation about the downtown, because this directly resulted in a lowered bottom line for small business. I was saddened that this social media-inspired disinformation campaign hurt my friends’ and constituents’ ability to make a living. I was particularly shocked that even one of our city councillors was talking down our downtown. That’s not acceptable. As an elected representative of Lethbridge, I believe my job is to seek solutions and help our neighbours through some difficult social issues that have become increasingly acute in Lethbridge. There are many solutions and none of them are easy, but one thing we do know is that making life tougher for small business and scaring off customers isn’t a solution.
Tomorrow is the last day of Small Business Week. I encourage everyone to come to Downtown Lethbridge this week, or in the weeks to come, and do your holiday shopping here.
When you buy local, you support a local family and their staff. Let’s stand together as a community and support our small businesses. The best >way to support our downtown small businesses is to support them with our dollars.
The constituency office has been getting more and more calls from folks who have seen their insurance rates going up since the government lifted the cap on how much insurance companies can raise your rates. Unfortunately, it looks like this government is more interested in listening to lobbyists and already-profitable >corporations than in listening to everyday, hard-working Albertans. If you have seen your insurance rates increase recently, please call the constituency office at 403-329-4644, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can stop by our new office at #110 410 Stafford Drive South to speak with us about this. I look forward to hearing from you.
Shannon Phillips is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge West. Her column appears monthly.