by Morinville News Staff
The NDP is saying that if the UCP government is going to borrow $25 billion on behalf of Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic, it must be used to help Albertans.
On Wednesday, April 22, an Order in Council gave the President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance the ability to borrow up to $25 billion.
The NDP is calling on the UCP to explain what the money is to be used for.
“It’s no surprise that we will need additional fiscal capacity to help Albertans through this pandemic,” said Alberta NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips in a media release Thursday. “But so far, the UCP has shortchanged every single support program they launched. The Minister of Finance has underestimated the needs of Albertans and pulled the rug out from under them time and time again. Albertans are struggling and it’s time the UCP actually used some of their fiscal capacity to help people, not just let them down.”
The NDP accuse the UCP of being “incapable of providing basic fiscal support to Albertans,” citing the cancelling of their Emergency Isolation Support program as an example that left thousands of Albertans without promised bridge funding.
Over the past days and weeks, the NDP have proposed funding suggestions to help Alberta residents and businesses through the pandemic, but say they have had no uptake from the government.
“It would be great if Jason Kenney did something more for Albertans instead of just telling them to wait for Justin Trudeau,” Phillips said. “The Premier brags about his relief package, but no one in my riding feels they’re being supported. Instead, they feel left behind.”
The NDP proposed 12 programs or supports that the Government of Alberta could fund with its ORder in Council borrowing limit:
• Extend the eviction ban and provide immediate rental support to Albertans paid directly to landlords to help offset their costs.
• Issue an emergency rent subsidy to small businesses to a maximum of $10,000, and provide a government backstop of up to $7,500 for landlords who agree to defer rent for three months for businesses during the pandemic.
• Immediately reopen emergency support payments to Albertans who are forced to self-isolate, caring for loved ones in self-isolation, caring for children home from school or have lost employment or a significant amount of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Provide a much-higher hourly wage top up and hire more nurses to provide emergency care in Alberta long-term care homes and continuing care homes.
• Provide parents who have kids continuing their school work from home with a supplement of $250 for each child to ensure they can purchase supplies and devices necessary for course work.
• Rehire the more than 20,000 educational assistants fired on March 28.
• Procure appropriate amounts of PPE for frontline health workers and essential workers.
• Freeze tuition payments for post-secondary students and backfill all funding to post-secondary institutions to ensure they are financially viable through COVID-19.
• Provide immediate funding to closed child care centres so they can pay their leases and be able to reopen when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
• Procure hotel rooms for Albertans experiencing homelessness, to ensure they can self-isolate with dignity and avoid the risk of an outbreak in this vulnerable community.
• Immediately provide a top-up to provincial benefit programs, including for the thousands of Albertans on Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and Income Support programs.
The NDP also snarkily includes the firing of Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro, stating, “This costs nothing.”