NDP brings budget town hall tour to Red Deer

Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition held a Budget Town Hall in Red Deer Thursday night to gather input from residents on alternatives to the UCP government’s first budget expected next month.

The NDP is warning Albertans to brace for possible cuts in education, health care, infrastructure, services for people with disabilities, and job creating program in the tech sector, renewables, and oil and gas.

“The UCP refuses to listen to Albertans, so we will,” says David Eggen, Official Opposition Critic for Advanced Education. “They continue to write their budget in secret, leaving Albertans guessing where cuts will come in order to pay for their $4.5 billion gift to their wealthy friends, a gift that hasn’t created a single job in Alberta to date.”

David Eggen

NDP officials say the UCP government has not held open consultations for their planned fall budget, but instead have relied on advice from what they describe as a “secretive Blue Ribbon Panel.”

The panel led by Janice MacKinnon has, according to the NDP, recommended $600 million in cuts which are anticipated to affect education, health care, and municipal funding among other areas.

On Wednesday, the NDP released information showing the UCP government is planning to cut funding for police services in smaller communities by up to 70 per cent in order to make up potentially $157 million of the $600 million they will be looking to cut from the provincial budget.

“This is just downloading costs on to municipalities – plain and simple,” adds Eggen. “There is only one taxpayer, so these cuts will force municipalities to raise taxes or cut services. This isn’t right and Albertans deserve better.”

The Red Deer event held at the downtown public library, was the third in a series of town halls the NDP are holding across the province, with the first two in Edmonton and Grande Prairie respectively.

Additional town hall meetings are set to take place in Lethbridge Sept. 24, Medicine Hat at a yet to be determined time, Fort McMurray Oct. 1, St. Albert Oct. 3 and in Calgary on Oct. 5.