With the provincial budget just a breath away, anticipate a level of slash and burn that not even those of us that lived through the miserable 80s recession and then the ‘King Ralph’ era of cuts experienced.
Albertans have already been forewarned with a slew of announcements from the provincial government in recent months.
A non-announcement press conference last week explained the education budget won’t see any more money put into it, but school boards will — at the same time — get an increase in funding.
Before that, it was Alberta’s small population communities and rural counties being told to find funds that will triple in cost over the next three years to pay for policing with no guarantee these municipalities will see more officers despite the “U Can Pay” government’s declaration they are combating rural crime.
Additionally, toss in the province’s cuts to the grants in place of taxes that will see all communities lose half of the funds they have had built into their annual budgets for decades. That almost guarantees a property tax increase or cuts to services like snow clearing and other services.
Prior to all this, there was the decrease in the amount to those that receive assistance payments because they can’t work and the removal of younger spouses from the drug coverage plan of their senior citizen marriage mate.
Colour everyone confused about how any of this will help create jobs and investment like the government would have everyone believe.
And, this is likely the tip of the iceberg given this government added about $2 billion in debt to the figure the former NDP government estimated it would have generated this fiscal year.
Just wait for what will happen to health care when they look to cut pay for doctors and nurses along with moving or privatizing other health services.
Force teachers to take less while cramming more kids into classrooms and making school boards choose what cuts to make to stay on budget.
And, make it even harder to deliver quality services such as fighting wildfires and assisting the public by eliminating positions.
They stopped listening
Once the economy was dramatically disrupted, employees were being laid off and outsiders with their own agendas began meddling, the regular public started turning off their ears to the messaging and protests that have erupted around the country.
Of course, this is regarding the fight over a liquid natural gas pipeline under construction in northern B.C. that elected band councils have signed onto and deriving some substantial economic benefits from.
However, a few hereditary chiefs have high-jacked the process by refusing to budge from their stance of no pipeline no matter what. This effort to block the pipeline has since been aided by several non-band outsiders, who have set up camps — and a few alleged booby traps — along the route, all of which has been dismantled by the RCMP after they moved in a few weeks ago along with a number of arrests being made.
Had it simply been supporters of the pipeline opponents showing up at the actual site or people showing their support through staged gatherings at various places, the general public might have been inclined to sympathize with the movement.
However, with the activist-type mentality and overly aggressive nature these protests have exhibited, no one is focusing on the fact that this is about a fight over land use.
The only thing the media and others have attached themselves to is the economic and personal impacts the various incidents have caused.
These include stories about thousands of laid off rail workers, journalists and others being physically harassed trying to enter the B.C. legislature to do their jobs, protesters dangerously putting up hastily constructed barriers on highways and train tracks and truckers running through blockades as they try to get to jobs they desperately need.
Now, it has progressed to hearing about what the police and governments should be doing to end all of this.
That means no one — absolutely no one — is talking about the mostly internal politics and fight going on within the First Nation in question and who ultimately has the right to govern their territory.
That is the bigger question that needs to be answered here, along with one other thing.
Why would a small segment of people put their own agenda before the needs of a community, which could use the jobs and the financial benefits to ensure a better future for generations to come?
But that is…just an observation.