Local MLAs are concerned about how much debt the province is sinking into. It’s expected to grow to $45 billion by the end of the year, and more than $71 billion by 2020.
Grande Prairie – Smoky Wildrose MLA Todd Loewen feels its wrong to saddle future generations with that much owing. He argues the government needs to take another look at how much it’s wasting.
“We just can’t put ourselves into a situation where we’re going to be paying $2.3 billion just in debt servicing by 2019; that’s just an incredible amount of money. There’s so much you could do with that $2.3 billion other than giving it to banks for interest.”
Loewen suggests a fiscal reform commission made up of experts on finances to help figure where savings can be had. He also wants to look at getting rid of non front-line positions as people retire.
Grande Prairie – Wapiti PC MLA Wayne Drysdale has also called the project debt amount “scary.” He says he has no problem with borrowing for capital projects, but gets concerned when it comes to day-to-day expenses.
“If people have got to pay for a few years for schools and hospitals that they’ll be using, they should maybe pay some of it, but they shouldn’t be paying for a power bill today 20 years from now, that’s for sure. This government’s plan doesn’t have anything for paying the debt off, really.”
The PC Party presented their own fiscal plan earlier this week that they say would put Alberta into a surplus by 2019/2020. Drysdale says he hopes some of the $600 million put aside for health care facilities will come to Beaverlodge.
In addition to the promise of school funding and the Highway 43 bypass, Budget 2017 also included $353 million dollars to finish the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital. Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd argues that development will benefit the entire region, especially due to the cancer centre.
“Most of us have to go to Edmonton for our treatment, so that’s going to be huge for people. Tt’s going to save a lot of money for travel and lodging; it’s expensive for families to go to Edmonton. Because it’s going to be a state-of-the-art hospital, it’s going to attract a lot of good doctors and we’ll be able to increase services.”
McCuaig-Boyd is also happy with the government’s recent decision to cut school fees. She believes they’re moving in the right direction creating jobs and repairing infrastructure like roads up in the Peace.