June 24th, 2024

MLA Phillips responds to fiscal update

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 25, 2022.

Alberta workers have the second slowest wage growth in Canada, according to information highlighted in a press conference on Thursday with Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips.

According to new data from Statistics Canada, Alberta’s average weekly earnings have grown by 2.6 per cent, just ahead of Prince Edward Island at 2.4 per cent.

During the 2022-23 mid-year fiscal update and economic statement delivered on Thursday, Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance, said in the face of a potential global recession Albertans can rest assured that the province will be in the best position as a result of a focus on responsible fiscal management over the last three years.

“Alberta continues to have economic momentum despite global uncertainty, with the projected surplus of $12.3 billion and debt repayment of $13.4 billion,” said Toews.

Referencing these numbers, Phillips says the province is awash in resource revenue earnings, but that it is from the spike in oil after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and not due to the actions of the UCP.

“Despite record resource revenue, Albertans continue to struggle,” said Phillips. “What today’s fiscal update shows us is that the UCP is not planning to keep healthcare investment and inflation plus population growth. It’s an effective $332 million cut, while we are reeling from the pandemic and our health care system desperately needs rebuilding.”

Phillips argues family wages continue to fail to make headway as prices continue to rise, claiming the UCP is not the government that can lead Albertans out of this. “Roughly half of Albertans are just $200 away from not being able to pay their bills,” said Phillips. “We are seeing food bank usage at record high levels. Now the government is predicting in today’s update that things will get materially worse in the Alberta economy. Wages will stay well below inflation for this year. That’s according to their own numbers, and they are barely expected to keep pace next year.”

Hoping to see a change for Albertans, Phillips stresses a need for reassessment on how the UCP is handling finances going forward.

“What we need is a strategic plan to address the affordability crisis. We need a thoughtfully constructed utility rate cap that will give people price certainty on their electricity and natural gas. We need a thoughtful plan on automobile insurance, that we know has skyrocketed by more than 30 per cent,” said Phillips. “We need to make strategic fiscally-prudent investments to build a resilient economy that creates high quality mortgage paying jobs.”

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