April 22nd, 2024

UCP budget one of broken promises for Lethbridge


By Lethbridge Herald on March 30, 2024.

AT THE LEGISLATURE
Shannon Phillips – NDP MLA for Lethbridge West

The people of Lethbridge deserve an honest representation of what the latest provincial Budget means for us. Budget 2024 is a broken promises budget, especially for the people of Lethbridge. 

Folks in Lethbridge remain genuinely concerned with timely access to health care, affordability, and a strong education system. The UCP ran around making all kinds of promises to the people of Lethbridge at election time last year. Those promises were broken in Budget 2024.

With respect to health care: our lack of family physicians is well-known, as I have been highlighting the issue in the news media and the Legislature for four years. There are still no family doctors taking new patients in Lethbridge! The UCP keep telling Albertans they are taking action, but the numbers don’t lie – hundreds of thousands of patients have lost their family doctor, and in our city, there has been no improvement. Population and inflation growth are 6.2 per cent, but services budgets are only growing by 3.9 per cent. Furthermore, when I questioned the Finance Minister about physician compensation to attract new doctors, he indicated there were no plans for this funding, unlike what is happening in British Columbia and elsewhere. 

The crisis in health care goes beyond family physicians. Access to specialists and surgical wait times due to shortage of specialists is a worsening problem. Lethbridge is losing anesthesiologists, and with them goes timely access to surgery for those who are already waiting for too long. There is nothing in this Budget to attract new anesthesiologists or other specialists. Meanwhile, other provinces have much more stable, respectful relationships with health care workers, and Alberta’s Budget 2024 shows we will only see more cuts to health care. 

Last year, the UCP also promised an expansion of cardiac care services at the Chinook Regional Hospital. That promise was clearly just made to get through the election. There is nothing in Budget 2024 to fund the planning or design of such an expansion. Last year, the Mayor of Lethbridge expressed his surprise at how Lethbridge was left out of Budget 2023. He wondered if there might be a page missing! Well, Budget 2024 still has a page or two missing. 

As a parent, I remain deeply concerned about K-12 education. There are 28,000 additional students entering our schools every year, but UCP cuts now mean Alberta has the lowest per-student funding in Canada. Base operating grants for schools have gone down, and learning supports are flat.

Lethbridge needs a number of new schools and modernizations. St. Francis middle school in downtown Lethbridge is in dire need of modernization or a new build – but Holy Spirit School Division was ignored by the UCP.  Lethbridge was promised better representation from the UCP. That promise was broken.

Recently, I attended a large rally along Mayor Magrath Dr. in support of education workers. Educational assistants, administrative assistants, custodians and bus drivers keep our kids safe and our schools functioning. But as life gets more expensive, their wages haven’t gone up – for years. This is a moral outrage. Here are some of their stories: one woman who works as an administrative assistant in a southern Alberta school says her wages are so low her kids have to work in the evenings so they can make ends meet. Another Educational Assistant, who assists children with disabilities in the classroom, says she makes less today than she did 17 years ago – when she worked at a grocery store. Another woman who works as a school bus driver says her 18-year-old who works at Subway makes more than she does. The UCP must increase wages for these workers and there is nothing in Budget 2024 to make that happen. It’s pretty clear to me why there were hundreds of people at the Lethbridge rally supporting these workers.

The past few years, and especially the past year, have shown us how we must adapt to the reality of climate change and climate variability. This coming summer is likely to be marked by drought, as last year was. People in Lethbridge have grave concerns about the government’s plans for coal mining in the Eastern Slopes, projects that would further threaten southern Alberta’s water supply. In the past month, the UCP has allowed new coal mining applications for a project that has already been turned down. It is obvious to me that the UCP MLAs in Southern Alberta didn’t hear the people of Lethbridge the first time they tried to roll out the red carpet for an Australian billionaire to stripmine our mountains and poison our headwaters. The answer from citizens was no in 2020 and it remains a firm no. I know many Lethbridge West constituents are writing to the Premier and the UCP MLA for Lethbridge East, reiterating their opposition to new coal stripmines in the Eastern Slopes. I encourage folks to continue to do so. 

My office continues to assist with a number of constituent concerns and inquiries. In particular, if you require a document notarized, there are some types of notarization and commissioning services I can provide, depending on your needs. Please do not hesitate to reach out to find out if I can be of assistance, I can be reached at 403.329.4644 or lethbridge.west@assembly.ab.ca

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buckwheat

Climate change climate variability and drought. Did they shut off snow making at Castle, Shannon???? You know, the Haig creek syphon.
FRom the number of commenters on here since this article went up three days ago it would appear that the only one thinking this is the author. The usual cabal of supporters has so far failed to appear.

Last edited 21 days ago by buckwheat
lumpy

Maybe, unlike you, they have a life and don’t waste their time trolling.

Southern Albertan

Agreed, by many of us members of the ‘choir.’ Again, the Smith/Parker UCP/TBA is an ever increasing, intolerable mess. How much worse will it get? What will be the breaking point?

buckwheat

Explain intolerable mess from your viewpoint.



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