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Just An Observation: ‘U Can Pay’ the new phrase Albertans should learn

What’s next for this provincial residents, plus winter driving tips to remember

It seems as though the Conservative movement is making yet another turn into the land of slash and burn.

Provincially, they have gone from fiscally and socially responsible in the days of Premiers Lougheed and Stelmach to the drastic Klein cuts, then moved into the “we are in it for us” eras of Redford and Prentice to what is seemingly a focus on one thing - debt. Nothing wrong with that, especially given my financial background.

However, this movement seems to have gone from Social Credit, Progressive Conservative, Reform and Conservative Alliance to the UCP — a.k.a “U Can Pay.”

There was no doubt that the “Kenny’s Kuts” budget was going to hit Albertans in certain ways — increased sin taxes, wage reduction targets and efficiencies in all parts of government.

However, the program slashing combined with “holding the line” statements on health and education plus tax breaks for big business were far more than what “everyday” Albertans had anticipated.

As the details have started to come into the light, more and more Albertans are learning they can look forward to U Can Pay more for things such as:

Education — higher school and busing fees as well as the cost to the kids in terms of larger class sizes and less time with teachers as schools are seeing millions in cuts despite expected growth in student numbers.

Health — even more time waiting for appointments with your doctor or a specialist, greater waits for procedures and possibly longer times for an ambulance to arrive with the budget showing cuts to EMS services, legislation tabled that would potentially kill the contract with doctors and no money for desperately needed new or expanded hospitals.

Infrastructure — higher property taxes or little-to-no improvements or upgrades to things like roads, recreation facilities or parks as municipalities brace for far less funding.

Social Services — more homelessness, more food bank visitors, more stress and possibly fewer people being able to work as income supports for those that need it are being held or hacked.

This includes no commitment, yet, to continue funding daycare subsidies and the soon-to-be loss of a program that provided parents with money for a relative to look after their children instead of high cost licenced childcare that averages $850 per child per month.

Is it any wonder there are people I have heard that are willing to pack up and leave for other regions, including some that are contemplating going back to Ontario. Never thought I’d hear that.

Winter driving traps

Winter seems to be here, but alas, many drivers still motor down the road like it’s summer.

Either that or they believe the fact winter tires makes them invincible?

The most recent snow storm to hit central Alberta caused a lot of grief on area highways as well as several serious collisions, most of which police are attributing to not driving to the road or weather conditions.

And it is like this every year, so why do people seem to not get the message?

From what the experts say, it seems to be more about complacency and that drivers are relying heavily on new vehicle technology and have far too much confidence in the stopping ability of winter (even studded) tires.

Many drivers, both young and old, believe their skills are great and that they can handle whatever might happen — even if the roads are covered in snow or ice.

That’s their first mistake. You can never be prepared for everything, especially when you can’t control what others on the road are doing.

Next, many of those who drive newer model vehicles get caught up in another trap — believing the anti-lock braking systems as well as traction control and warning systems will keep them safe. This reliance creates a false sense of security that even if one makes a minor driving error that the vehicle will save them.

And yet another mistake is feeling that any winter tire, studded or not, will give the vehicle better traction and stopping power. Granted, having good winter tires is the best way to maintain contact with the road in snow and ice. But, tires are not going to stop a vehicle going the speed limit in reduced or poor road conditions.

Oh, and if you happen to be driving slower than someone else on the highway, either allow them to pass when they have an opportunity or ensure you are driving in the far right lane. It’s better to arrive safely.

But that is…just an observation.