We have issues…

By Jeff Kubik and Emily Senger

From closed bovine borders to AISH payments, Alberta’s provincial election has seen hundreds of appeals to voters. Despite the best agenda setting efforts of Alberta’s political parties, four primary issues have dominated the run up to Mon., Nov. 22–chirping, cowboy hat-wearing, not obviously-disabled women notwithstanding.

Budget surplus

This September, the Progressive-Conservative party announced the retirement of Alberta’s provincial debt. With an annual provincial surplus already exceeding $22 billion and fuel revenues promising continued increases, the subject of Alberta’s unprecedented provincial windfall is an important and overarching issue. Encompassing social programs, infrastructure and nearly every facet of the government’s operation, the allocation or failure thereof of billions of dollars will have demonstrable effects on any affected programs. Invest the revenue as an endowment? Pour it back into social programs? Lower personal or corporate taxes?


From university classrooms to early childhood education, funding for Alberta’s educational system has become an ex-tremely contentious issue. At the post-secondary level, students continue to pay less than the provincially legislated 25 per cent of their educational costs. Across the board, teachers are alleging that overcrowded classrooms and an under-funded staff base are reducing the quality of education in Alberta. As Alberta’s economy thrives, skilled labour shortages are already an issue for the business community. Unless changes are made to the current education system at the post-secondary level, skilled labour shortages will have an increasingly negative affect on the Alberta economy in the future.

Health care

As Alberta’s Baby-Boomers continue to age increasing demands are expected on the health care system. With a third of the provincial budget already spent on health care, changes are required to create a sustainable system. While the heath care system currently employs a limited number of outsourced services and user fees, opposition parties accuse the current PC government of preparing to introduce a privatized health care system under the auspices of “user fees,” fees the Tory government maintains are necessary to ensure a sustainable system. While all parties maintain their interest is in maintaining the existing system while operating under the Canada Health Act, important restructuring seems to be inevitable.


Much ado about public buildings, roads and public transit. From the twinning of Alberta’s highways to increasing the capabilities of municipalities’ public transit systems how will capital be allocated provincially and municipally? With rapid population growth in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor, infrastructure deficits are increasing. In what areas is Alberta’s infrastructure inadequate?

Leave a comment