By Juliana L, Ana D, Felicia M, and Cameron B.
Alberta currently sits in a slew of yard signs, door knocking, and phone calls. However, even with the buzz of provincial election drawing to a climax, many citizens of our province remain unsure, uninformed and/or indifferent. It takes so much effort to sift through all the platforms and candidates, not to mention all the districts! If only there was one article that would give a basic rundown of all the parties and their opinions on important issues like oil and gas involvement, education, healthcare and fiscal policies…. Looks like you came to the right place. What follows is information on the five major parties in the upcoming election: The New Democratic Party, The Alberta Party, The Liberal Party, The Wildrose Party and The Progressive Conservative Party, all in one place. Hopefully, with this guide you can make a good decision come voting and clear up a bit of the election chaos.
The New Democratic Party (NDP), led by one Rachel Notley, is a rising competitor in the upcoming elections. While being left-inclined in the majority of their platform, the NDP place the highest priority on Alberta’s working class. In the opinion of the New Democratic Party, the PC Party’s decision to outsource the production of crude oil to Texas is nonsensical. The transportation of the resource alone costs tax dollars the NDP is unwilling to spend. Instead, the proposal of a Job Creator’s Tax Credit promises to create new jobs for the economy by processing crude in Alberta.
To further improve the living conditions of the middle class, the NDP supports labour unions and higher taxation on corporations. These actions hope to alleviate the financial stress on the middle class. The new high-income tax rates are as follows: 12% on taxable income over $125000 to $150000; 13% taxable income over $150000 to $200000; 14% on taxable income over 200000 to $300000; and 15% on taxable income over #300000. In this way, the top 10% of tax filers will be able to support the remaining 90% of Alberta’s population.
Stable health care that is accessible to those on a worker’s salary is also a high priority for the NDP. In order to streamline the medical process, the party plans to ensure steady funding for the front-line services, including the repair of hospitals and seniors facilities as well as the construction of new institutions as needed. Regular maintenance will also be practiced. In essence, the NDP wishes to redirect funds the PC Party funneled into privatization towards public services.
In the field of education, reducing school fees while ameliorating the quality of schooling seems to be the current focus of the NDP. To reduce the overall cost of school, everyday expenses such as lunch supervision and bussing must be lessened, as well as ensuring construction and renovation projects are based on need. The party would also like to phase in targeted school lunch programs for elementary students and reduce class sizes to increase the quality of education. Overall, as said by NDP Candidate Catherine Welburn, “The NDP basically tries to speak to be the voice of the working person. They try to get rights of everyone even if they don’t have a lot of money, so, the right to education, the right to have health care, the right for affordable housing choices. Really the NDP is speaking more on behalf of the average person and they want to have equity in society.”
Learn more at http://www.albertandp.ca/platform
The Alberta Party, led by Greg Clark, is a left leaning party running in the upcoming Alberta election. Most of their ideas revolve around moving our systems to follow the growing population of Alberta.
One priority that came up a lot in their policies was to diversify Alberta’s income and decrease our reliance on oil and gas, both for finance and energy. They plan to do this by working with the federal government to make our agriculture industry international, as well as to financially support entrepreneurs and our arts and culture market. This will be by phasing out the current small business tax, financially supporting Albertan startup companies, and building infrastructure for arts and culture, in and out of cities. To decrease our dependency on fossil fuels for electricity, they will accelerate the already existing plan to phase out our reliance on coal for electricity, build a system to have Alberta’s energy at 25% renewable resources in ten years and charge for carbon emissions.
A fairly important subject to students is education policies. Luckily for us, the Alberta Party plans to reverse the PCs’ education cuts, build schools, phase out school fees, and stop subsidizing private schools. For universities, they want to cap post-secondary tuition rates, make sure all students who qualify for post-secondary education have a place in schools, and increase access to needs based grants in order to reduce student debt. They also plan to restore the Summer Temporary Employment Program, so that students can find summer jobs more easily.
Another topic close to home for many is healthcare.The Alberta Party plans to reverse the cuts that the PCs made to healthcare and invest in long-term care beds, preventative care, and better home care for seniors. These changes will save Alberta money in the future. Improving access to mental health and addiction treatments are also high on their list of healthcare changes needing to be made.
The first thing that they plan to do when elected, however, is put all budget surpluses (extra money) to get Alberta out of our current debt. In order to help them control their budgeting, they want to create a new job opening within our government, a Legislature Budget Officer, so that budgets can be carefully reviewed and held to a standard of transparency and accountability.
On the topic of government transparency, they also want to toughen government ethics. If all their plans go through to completion, Alberta will have the highest government ethics laws in Canada.
For more information, you can visit the Alberta Party website at www.albertaparty.ca
The Liberal Party, with Dr. David Swann at its head stands for equality and fairness for all Albertans. The first platform point you see on their website is a plan to better enforce the Human Rights Act to ensure a better quality of life for all Albertans. They also want to ensure legal aid for Albertans who can’t afford it and increase occupational safety standards.
In the realm of equality comes their views on sexual health. They disagreed with the bill that threatened the ability for students to form GSAs, and want to improve sexual health education for students to include the teaching of consent at a reasonable age (at this point, you don’t go in depth with it until grade 9). For families who are having trouble starting a family, they want to make in vitro fertilization a more accessible and affordable option.
Like many other parties, the Liberals want to improve our health care system by adding more long-term beds, improving access to primary care, investing in mental health and addiction prevention and treatment, and reduce medical administrative costs. For seniors, they want to double support fundings and change the property tax rebate into a tax grant for some extra money.
The Liberals want to invest in cities large and small, which will bring changes including the bettering of Calgary and Edmonton’s transit systems, funding to maintain municipalities growth, and implement a program for equal tax revenue.
Education all across the board is also important for them. Everything from preschool to postsecondary, there will be grants, new schools, new teachers, and lower tuition and school fees. Students of all ages and their families across Alberta will be assisted in their academic growth.
For economic growth, there will be more invested in charities, small businesses, and the arts and culture industry. There will also be better support for ESL (English as a Second Language) immigrants coming into Alberta so that they can get good jobs, which will help our economy. One way the Liberals have seen economic promise is through environmental improvements. A large factor in the U.S.A. not approving the Keystone XL Pipeline is because of Alberta’s very negative impact on the environment. For the deal to work, we’d need to reduce carbon emissions which they plan to do for both the environment and the economy.
You can learn more at www.albertaliberal.com
The PC Party also plans on improving our education system by investing more money into teacher excellence, making post-secondary education more accessible, and investing in early child development with an integrated early learning system. Along with these changes, the PC Party will develop a strategy for increasing student success with curriculum changes, coherent grading, with 21st century competencies such as innovation, communication, and critical thinking. The PCs also plan on reducing the weight of diploma exams, set up the ability to take trade courses and get credits, and promote safe, dignified and respectful learning environments.
Along with all these plans, the PCs also want to set up some social systems supporting vulnerable Albertans, expand trading, make Alberta a leader in Agriculture, Science, and Innovation, preserve Alberta’s environment by investing in clean technologies, along with partnering with the various municipalities around Alberta.
You can learn more at https://www.pcalberta.com/
Founded in 2002 and renamed in 2008, the Wildrose Party, led by Brian Jean, is a recently developed party. For those unfamiliar with Wildrose values, here is the party platform in terms that non-politicians can understand. So, for oil and gas, their thoughts are to “ensure that the benefits of the oil sands are directed towards Albertans”. They also repeatedly stressed the point that currently, many oil operations are under bad management and they wish to amend that, also claiming they will construct more export pipelines. Basically, the Wildrose are mostly focusing on squeezing more revenue from the oil sands.
The Wildrose values education and they plan to build more schools. Wildrose believes innovation is important but wants to support traditional values. Another thing they mentioned on their education page was that they believe every student should reach their potential. This statement is supported by the proposed elimination of mandatory school fees. This, along with the construction of new schools (as mentioned earlier) is likely to result in a higher percentage of taxpayer money going towards education.
Another social service where more money will be directed is healthcare. Wildrose criticises the current healthcare program for focusing more on the procedure, provider, and bureaucracy rather than the patient. They also say that annually, there are over 1 billion dollars lost from fraud, a problem they believe will be rectified by investigation and encouraging witnesses of fraud/waste to come forward and report the crime. A hefty part of the statement on healthcare was on addressing the issue of mental illnesses and addiction problems by dedicating beds to mental health patients (easing congestion in acute care wards), focusing on preventative care measures, reallocating funds to approved third-party organizations dealing with mental and addiction issues, and establishing community counseling services. Another theme was distributing healthcare services to a local level. The Wildrose want a “patient-care based model to include non-hospital services”, providing needs-based and patient-friendly alternatives to hospital care, etc. Lastly, Wildrose states that they will establish an online Patient Health Care Portal that will make healthcare records and updates on patient medical status accessible.
The most expansive (yet redundant) section was on budgeting. The Wildrose claims that they won’t increase taxes. But with their plans for improving our current healthcare and education systems, it begs the question of where exactly they are going to get the money from. Basically all you need to know about the Wildrose fiscal plan is that they wish to restore the Alberta Advantage and return to the way things were done in the past.
If you believe in a more traditional approach to government, vote Wildrose. For additional information about the Wildrose Party and budget information visit http://www.wildrose.ca/https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/wildrose/pages/223/attachments/original/1429486536/Balanced_Budgets_apr19.pdf?1429486536.
The Westmount Charter School Mid-High campus lies in the electoral district of Calgary-Varsity. For a couple weeks now, students have been seeing signs with candidate’s names on them set up on lawns and on the way to the stores where they buy their lunches. So who are these candidates? For two consecutive terms, the MLA has been Donna Kennedy-Glans of the Progressive Conservative party. This year, however, we will see a fresh face because she is no longer running. Instead, she is replaced by Susan Billington, a seasoned lawyer who has been in the Calgary-Varsity area for over 35 years. As for the other candidates? Representing the Alberta Liberal Party is Pete Helrich, a man who has first-hand experience with the healthcare system because, as was repeatedly mentioned on the Liberal website, he was a paramedic for 25 years. The New Democratic Party candidate is Stephanie McLean, who although she graduated from the University of Calgary in 2012, already has her own law practice set up. Sharon Polsky comes to us from the Wildrose and she is the founder, president, or other position of power of too many organizations to list, mostly in the field of data protection, privacy, information risk management, etc. A party not covered in this article, the Green Party, also has a candidate running for the Calgary-Varsity constituency. Carl Svoboda, now retired, was an oil engineer and manager for 32 years. Apart from the obvious focus on the environment, the Green Party platform also includes stopping tuition costs from increasing (freezing them) and implementing a province wide plan on the rising tuition costs. The Alberta Party was also supposed to have a candidate running, Jeremy Mroch but due to the lack of information and the 404 page not founds it is safe to assume that for whatever reason he has dropped out of the elections.
Interestingly, the Elementary Campus lies within the bounds of a different electoral district. Parkdale lies on the edge of Calgary – Mountain View with completely different candidates. There is a strong Liberal representation in this area, as the past MLA and current leader of the Liberal Party of Alberta, David Swann is running. Dr. Swann doesn’t need an introduction, because by now you should know who he is. The PC candidate for this region is Mark Hlady, a man who was the MLA for twelve years before Dr. Swann took the position, he is running again after two general elections in which his name was not featured on the ballot. If you are a fan of the NDP, Mark Chikinda is the man to vote for. You may already know him as the dean of Communication Studies at Mount Royal. If you didn’t, well, now you do. Last but not least, the Wildrose candidate for Calgary-Mountain View is Terry Wong, who owns and runs a management consulting company.
Each candidate has different strengths and comes from different backgrounds. They range from the recently graduated to the recently retired, experienced in healthcare to data protection. On that note, voters must make their own careful, informed decisions and the rest as they say, is up to fate.
Now that you know a bit more about the potential leaders of this province, perhaps the chaos of an election will seem a bit less daunting. Alberta is at a turning point and every vote counts. After all, the point of democracy is for people to make an informed decision about their leaders, an objective many forget in the political drama surrounding such events. So look up the candidates for your district and think about the future of Alberta. The choice is yours. Who will you vote for?