By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on November 22, 2019.
Lethbridge remains one of the best places in the province to raise a family. Our city is a model of a diversified economy to which other communities in Alberta aspire. On Nov. 6, I was lucky enough to host a team of representatives from Team Lethbridge, a range of public-sector, private-sector, nonprofit and civil society leaders and organizations, at the Legislature. Team Lethbridge and I are hearing the voices and concerns of residents loud and clear. We are doing everything we can to make sure that this government listens to and addresses your concerns.
Lethbridge is known for two things: seniors and students. We have seen this government go out of its way to make cuts to both. They are raising post-secondary tuition and enacting deep cuts to our university and college. They are also cutting seniors’ lodge assistance programs, seniors’ benefits and kicking tens of thousands of older Albertans off the seniors’ drug plan.
I am receiving hundreds of phone calls, emails and letters from very concerned folks in our community. Parents don’t know if they will be able to work now that the government has cancelled the Kin Care program. Elders are worried that cuts to family supports like Family Centre and Opokaa’sin will lead to serious impacts in their communities. Seniors are worried about their insurance and benefits. Teachers and school staff are worried about class sizes and effects on student learning. Nurses are concerned about their patients. And it seems that we are all worried about the future of our pensions.
We have already seen this government’s disregard for our city in their budget. Here’s just a short list of our challenges. A broken promise on a new bridge for Highway 3. Cuts to ambulance services. No new schools despite the fact that we’re one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. No funding for a much-needed cardiac catheterization lab in our hospital. Cuts to the arts and those that work in the creative industries. Cuts to early learning, child care, and parent link centres. Layoffs of teachers, educational assistants, and others through millions in cuts to our two school boards. Cuts to urban Indigenous programs. Cuts to our parks and those who work to monitor and protect our environment. Cuts to programs and tax credits designed to diversify and grow our economy, and attract new types of investment and entrepreneurs.
Lethbridge withstood the worst of the last recession caused by the collapse in the price of oil. But this UCP recession will undoubtedly hurt our community. Bigger deficits, higher personal taxes, and thousands of layoffs, all to pay for a $4.7-billion no-jobs corporate handout.
Lethbridge remains one of the fastest-growing and most economically diversified and resilient cities in the province. It is a great place to raise families and find a deep sense of community. But we will have to look out for each other during this looming UCP recession.
If you are concerned about service cuts and broken promises I urge you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 403-329-4644 or come to the office at #110 410 Stafford Drive South.
Shannon Phillips is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge West. Her column appears monthly.