June 18th, 2024

Phillips says budget comes up short for Lethbridge, aimed at buying votes

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on March 1, 2023.

Alberta’s budget promises to strengthen the economy and improve fiscal responsibility, but the NDP’s finance critic is skeptical and says the government is only trying to buy votes.

“This is a fraudulent budget designed to buy votes ahead of the election and then spraying those costs onto Albertans after the polls close,” said Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge West.

“A number of affordability measures are taken away from people after the election. There will be no more $100 affordability checks, you will have to pay the full gas tax, no electricity rebates. On top of that, all these schemes, rebates, that Danielle Smith has out there now, all of those come due driving our electricity costs up even further.”

Alberta’s 2023 budget was unveiled Tuesday afternoon by Finance Minister Travis Toews. It’s the UCP’s last budget before voter’s head to the polls for a spring election. Budget 23 forecasts a surplus of $2.4 billion in 2023-2024 with $2 billion in 2024-2025, and $1.4 billion in 2025-2026.

“Alberta’s strong balance sheet wouldn’t have been possible without our commitment to responsible fiscal management,” Toews said. “We intend to lock in this commitment and secure Alberta’s future with a new fiscal framework that requires balanced budgets, controls operating spending, and provides a framework for surplus cash. A balanced budget requirement and limiting spending increases to population growth and inflation will ensure appropriate and sustainable spending.”

On the other side, the NDP’s Official Opposition Finance Critic, Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West, notes the good is aimed at voters, with the bad hidden away till after the election.

Although the budget provides $3.1-billion in capital funding over three-years to build Alberta’s healthcare infrastructure, Phillips said it’s still not enough.

“This budget is $1.4-billion short of where we should be; if we had kept the health budget aligned with our population growth and inflation. They have gone out and claimed that they are going to make big claims about primary healthcare; none of that is properly funded here in these budget documents.”

In Lethbridge, Phillips noted the budget comes up short for residents, as well.

“The Lethbridge-East MLA is the Infrastructure Minister (Nathan Neudorf), you would think that Lethbridge would not be forgotten in this budget, but if you thought that, you’d be wrong. Lethbridge is absolutely left out of this budget.

“For the fourth budget in a row we do not have a Highway 3 bridge replacement. It is 60-years old, it needs to be replaced. We pledged to do it; fourth year in a row they are not doing it. We need a courthouse modernization, other communities are getting that, we are getting nothing. Our school boards have several requests for new and modernized schools across the city, we got one maybe in a couple of years. And in the rural physician program, it leaves Lethbridge out. We got nothing for housing, the single project listed in the capital plan is the one I announced in 2018.”

With an upcoming election set for May 29, Budget 2023 will kickstart a ramp up of politicians gearing up and getting ready to focus their platform towards voters.

“Budgets are full of big numbers and they take, oftentimes, months, sometimes a year or two for people to actually see the benefits,” said Phillips. “We cannot trust Danielle Smith to be fiscally responsible. This is a budget that washes around a bit of money until the election, and then quite literally a few days after the election, these programs disappear.”

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All the spending has been the result of recovering from you and Rachaels sandbox spending. You sure have a lot to say with no answers. Where is your shadow budget.

pursuit diver

They could have put forth the best budget in Alberta history and you would have found a way to tear it apart as the worst.
Is it the best budget for Lethbridge? No, but you destroyed this city by forcing the SCS on us and we are still paying high property taxes to pay for that and the lingering, ripple effects.
You are costing this community at least $1 million by suing the LPS, even after they took more than reasonable actions in dealing with the issue.
Get a life!


Please tell me more about our 60 year old Highway 3 bridge and the need to replace it. Is this a real need based on some real facts about the bidges’s condition?

Southern Albertan

“Budget 2023:Smoke, mirrors, sleight of hand, and promises that don’t have to be kept”


The west side whiner not pleased? I am shocked and amazed. Maybe if the UCP sprinkled in some “free” lightbulbs she might see the light.