Alberta Election 2015: Platform Summaries | Jesse Werkman

This Tuesday, May 5, Albertans will go to the polls and vote for their next provincial government. Sifting through multiple party platforms and political analyses can be overwhelming and time consuming. That’s why The Wanderer is here to help. We’ve reviewed the party platforms for the Progressive Conservatives, the Wildrose, the Alberta Liberals, and the Alberta New Democrats, and condensed them into categories of:

Families | Education | Health | the Economy | Business | Municipalities

Environment | Aboriginal Peoples | Government | Other Issues

Hopefully, this will assist you to make an informed decision on voting day. So find the issues that are most important to you, learn a little bit about the parties’ ideas for the future, and vote on May 5:

Families

Progressive Conservative

  • Implement Alberta’s Early Childhood Development initiative, including an integrated early learning system.
  • Add three new Parent Link Centres that provide free parenting and play programs.
  • Invest in up to $2750 per year for families with income under $41,220 and increase the family employment tax credit ($346-$763 more per year).
  • Increase support for persons with disabilities, including PDD, families of children with disabilities and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder initiatives.
  • Maintain support for AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped).
  • Keep the Michener Centre open (Red Deer long-term care centre for people with disabilities).
  • Ensure support for youth, women’s and homeless shelters and sexual assault services.
  • Protect child care subsidies.

NDP

  • Aim to move to a $25-a-day child care service.
  • Implement enhancements to the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit and the Alberta Working Family Supplement to benefit low income families.
  • Lead initiatives for greater gender equality in Alberta through the creation of a Women’s Ministry, creation of more spaces in women’s shelters province wide, and increase support for organizations taking initiatives to end violence against women and within families.
  • Reverse cuts to the public child care system and make the system more accountable.
  • Increase funding to Family and Community Support Services (FCSS).

Liberal

  • Provide public funding for families who require in vitro fertilization (the process of manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish).
  • Increase Family and Community Support Services by 25%.

Education

Progressive Conservative

  • Invest $5 billion into education over the next 5 years.
  • Complete the construction of over 200 new schools and modernization projects.
  • Shift diploma exam weighting from a 50/50 to a 30/70 weighting where school-awarded grades will be worth 70 per cent.
  • Create dual-credit partnerships in which students can take high school trades and skills courses and get credits at a postsecondary institution.
  • Preserve front line teaching positions.
  • Invest in training and support for Alberta teachers with a focus on math as an essential skill.

Post-Secondary Education

  • Enhance financial aid and student loans for postsecondary students.
  • Develop a plan to ensure stable funding for post-secondary institutions.
  • Ensure apprenticeship training is better aligned with labour market demands.

Wildrose

  • Ensure schools are built on time and on budget by improving the tendering and design process so that more builders are eligible.
  • Ensure transparency in new school projects and modernizations to allow for consistency.
  • Empower local school boards to find efficiencies by coordinating with developers and other community facilities.
  • Clearly identify the knowledge and skills required for each grade level and entrust teachers to choose the method of instruction for their classrooms.
  • Develop a consistent provincial grading standard with traditional letter or percentage grades for Grade 5-12 students and support the practice of teachers who give a grade of zero for incomplete work.
  • Eliminate mandatory school fees.
  • Protect a parent’s right to choose which school their child attends (Public, Catholic, Francophone, Public Charter, Private, or Homeschool).
  • Review funding and government supports to help schools be more sustainable in small communities.
  • Meet the needs of special needs students by improving family and teacher support.
  • Ensure adequate funding follows each special needs student.
  • Ensure adequate supervision and support is provided so the classroom is a healthy learning environment for everyone.
  • Work with all partners to make sure that every child has a bully-free educational experience.

NDP

  • Reduce class sizes.
  • Cut school fees by half.
  • Create a school lunch program at a cost of $20 million for 22,000 students in the first year.
  • Restore stable funding to schools ($104 million), and invest in building new schools that have continually been delayed, while ensuring school construction and renovation is based purely on need.
  • Phase-in all-day Kindergarten in priority neighbourhoods.
  • Invest to reduce class-sizes in a school system with growing enrolment K-12.

Post-Secondary Education

  • Restore the STEP program for post-secondary students.
  • Implement a real tuition freeze for post-secondary education.

Liberal

  • All schools will be required to uphold gay-straight alliances.
  • Include the age appropriate teaching of consent in all sexual education courses.
  • Phase out school fees for public education.
  • Make all-day kindergarten and universal child care a priority.
  • Employ more teachers to reduce class sizes.

Post-Secondary Education

  • Reduce post-secondary tuition and provide more scholarships and bursaries to counteract student loan debt.
  • Ensure program choice.

Health

Progressive Conservative

  • Reduce waste and duplication in healthcare.
  • Freeze salaries of management employees in the 2015/16 fiscal year.
  • Reduce sick leave costs of approximately $190 million annually.
  • Eliminate 1,695 administration positions in Alberta Health System, including attrition and retirements.
  • Decentralize decision-making by establishing 8-10 operational districts to give all regions of Alberta a say in how their healthcare is delivered.
  • Expand mental health services for children.
  • Reduce wait times in emergency rooms and hospitals by investing in emergency department expansions and increased surgical capacity.
  • Improve access to doctors after hours through Primary Care Networks.
  • Open more continuing care facilities for seniors and those will complex needs.
  • Allocate $3.4 billion over 5 years to fund health care facility expansion projects in Calgary and Edmonton.
  • Enhance home care capacity.
  • Open 464 continuing care beds and 2,612 supportive living spaces.
  • Ensure a minimum of two staff members present at all times at seniors lodges.

Wildrose

  • Establish a system to track and report, in real-time, health care system performance measures, surgical and emergency room wait times, and bed availability.
  • Create a publicly accessible and secure patient healthcare portal so patients are able to access their own health care records.
  • Focus on preventative care strategies to limit long-term health costs and deal with chronic care.
  • Spread funding across more healthcare facilities to give patients more care options.
  • Reduce wait times.
  • Reinvest money from AHS executives’ salaries, perks, severance and wasteful bureaucracy into frontline services.
  • Reallocate funding for home care, supported housing, assisted living, long-term care facilities, and palliative care hospices.
  • Implement a ‘Wait Time Guarantee’ that will reduce surgical and specialist wait times by funding services outside the provincial system should they be unavailable.
  • Investigate and examine ways to address the estimated $1 billion fraud in the healthcare system.
  • Protect health care professional whistleblowers when they see waste or fraud.
  • Decentralize the delivery of health care services to the local or facility level.
  • Focus on care for mental health and addiction by reallocating funds for community counselling services and non-profit organizations.

NDP

  • End cuts to healthcare and ensure stable funding for health services.
  • Cancel the current government’s $9 million plan to reorganize the AHS, and reinvest that money into reducing surgery and emergency room wait times.
  • Eliminate the proposed healthcare levy, replacing the revenue with a progressive tax system and higher corporate taxes.
  • Develop nearly 600,000 square feet of unfinished or unused hospital space, including the creation of 2,000 long-term care beds
  • Expand public home care.
  • Expand access to family doctors by negotiating stronger mandates and increasing hours.
  • Repair hospitals and seniors’ facilities and construct new facilities.

Liberal

  • Implement mandatory vaccination for all children, or force parents to acknowledge the risks of refusing vaccination for their children.
  • Ensure farm workers are covered by workers compensation.
  • Decrease emergency and surgery wait times by investing in “collaborative multidisciplinary teams”.
  • Advocate early intervention and treatment of mental health and addiction issues.
  • Double senior support funding.
  • Change the current tax rebate loan into a tax grant.
  • Free up more long-term hospital beds.

Economy

Progressive Conservative

  • Starting in 2018, 50% of oil revenue will go to government operating expenses, 25% to the Heritage Fund, and 25% to paying down debt.
  • Introduce a progressive tax system, within which income over $100,000 will be taxed higher.
  • Introduce a health care tax levy.
  • Conduct hiring freezes, except for frontline positions.
  • Continue infrastructure projects to keep people working and take advantage of market construction costs.
  • Triple the budget for provincial infrastructure maintenance and renewal over the next five years.
  • Introduce a Cultural Plan over the next three years to leverage our cultural and tourism resources.
  • Promote consumer confidence in Alberta as a leader in farm animal health and welfare, plant health and safe food products.
  • Focus programs on bringing younger people into the agriculture industry.
  • Increase industrial access to international markets, notably Asia-Pacific.
  • Leverage any emerging opportunities from the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement.
  • Reduce interprovincial trade barriers and promote free trade within Canada.
  • Work closely with BC and Saskatchewan to make the most of the New West Partnership.

Wildrose

  • Restore the Charitable Donation Tax Credit.
  • Commit to no new taxes.
  • Aggressively negotiate a fairer equalization program to keep more of Alberta’s money in the province.
  • Implement broad-based tax incentives to stimulate research, investment, and economic activity across all sectors without government interference.
  • Reduce spending and reallocate government finances (elaborated in the section on Government).

NDP

  • Restore the Charitable Donation Tax Credit.
  • Promote the processing of natural resources within the province to create jobs, and to secure a fair royalty return on those resources to ensure more resources revenue within the province.
  • 100% of incremental revenue from oil royalties will be placed in the Heritage Fund.
  • Increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018.
  • Support economic diversification into other sectors, including alternative energy, technology, film and television production, and more.
  • Introduce a high income progressive tax system, effecting the top 10% of income brackets.

Liberal

  • Restore the Charitable Donation Tax Credit.
  • Implement a progressive taxation system, within which income over $100,000 will be taxed higher.

Business

Progressive Conservative

  • Maintain small business taxes and our corporate tax rate as they are.
  • Promote the advantages of doing business in Alberta to attract investment and jobs to the province.
  • Help entrepreneurs commercialize their products and services.
  • Expand opportunities for entrepreneurs to use established facilities such as the Leduc Food Processing Development Centre and Agri-Value Processing Business Incubator for product development, key research, innovation and commercialization.

NDP

  • Introduce a Job Creator’s Tax credit to help Alberta businesses who invest in new jobs.
  • Increase corporate tax rates by 2%, while maintaining small business rates, and no sales tax.

Liberal

  • Invest in a small business start-up fund to provide support for entrepreneurs.
  • Increase taxes on corporations by 2%, while eliminating taxes on small businesses earning less than $500,000.
  • Allow the Canada Revenue Agency to take over corporate tax collection to ensure transparency and accountability.

Municipalities

Progressive Conservative

  • Establish new big city charters for Edmonton and Calgary
  • Help municipalities fund their infrastructure needs including transportation, transit and libraries.
  • Continue to support the long-term recovery of municipalities affected by the 2013 southern Alberta floods.
  • Strengthen the prevention, mitigation and preparedness efforts for future public safety and disaster management.

Wildrose

  • Create a 10/10 MSI plan: 10% of budget surplus and 10% of revenue go towards cities and municipalities; and 15% in other regional infrastructure projects such as public transportation projects.

NDP

  • Allow municipalities to mandate affordable housing in new developments.
  • Work with Alberta’s cities to ensure the City Charter process is mutually developed and respects cities as economic and social drivers for Alberta.

Liberal

  • Contribute full funding support of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.
  • Support the policies of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
  • Invest in expansion of train systems in Edmonton and Calgary.
  • Support the creation of independent City Charters for Edmonton and Calgary.

Environment

Progressive Conservative

  • Update the mandate of the Climate Change Emissions Management Corporation to accelerate technological investment and partnerships addressing environmental challenges, including GHG emissions and carbon reduction technologies.
  • Drive the development of clean technologies in the energy, forestry, agricultural, and transportation industries.
  • Commit to achieving ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
  • Restore or enhance more than 500 hectares of wetlands and about 36 kilometres of riparian areas.
  • Reduce tailings ponds, and regulate water usage from the Athabasca River, and ensure tailings ponds are ready to be reclaimed within 10 years of the end of the project.
  • Implement the Water Conservation Action Plan.
  • Enhance and clarify a health governance system for the province’s lakes.
  • Implement science-based standards for baseline water well testing near hydraulic fracking operations.
  • Work with municipalities to improve the sustainability of their water systems

NDP

  • Establish a green retrofitting program to assist Albertans in making their operations more environmentally friendly.
  • Phase out coal-fired electricity, and prioritize clean energy such as wind and solar.
  • End the current Carbon Capture program, and reinvest that money into public transportation.
  • Strengthen environmental standards, inspection, monitoring and enforcement to protect Alberta’s water, land, and air.
  • Craft an energy efficiency strategy and a renewable energy strategy.
  • Ban gas drilling in urban areas.
  • Protect the Castle Wilderness Area.

Liberal

  • Place a  price on carbon emissions and phase out coal-fired power plants by 2025.
  • Utilize independent environmental monitoring.
  • Provide incentives for energy conservation and use renewable energy.
  • Increase protection of surface and groundwater, and phase out the use of fresh water in deep well injections, as well as increase protections for endangered species and their natural habitats.

Immigration

Wildrose

  • Take full responsibility for provincial immigration to ensure industries are hiring the most skilled workers.
  • Work with industry, post-secondary institutions, and self-governing organizations to safely expedite the recognition of foreign credentials.

Liberal

  • Provide more settlement funding for new families.
  • Provide English Second Language funding and services.
  • Improve the foreign credential review service.

Aboriginal Peoples

Progressive Conservative

  • Improve the First Nations Engagement Strategy to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal leaders and communities to support Aboriginal peoples.
  • Increase the number of First Nations, Metis and Inuit education professionals and ensure professional standards for teachers and principals to require a knowledge of Aboriginal culture.
  • Work with First Nations Chiefs to improve education outcomes for Aboriginal children.
  • Increase the number of Aboriginal postsecondary students.
  • Develop action plans and long-term initiatives to match Aboriginal peoples with employment and apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Establish Alberta Aboriginal Construction Career Centres that will support Aboriginal training and employment in trades careers.
  • Improve integration of health services on reserves through partnerships with the federal government and First Nations communities.

Wildrose

  • Promote partnerships with First Nations and Metis peoples in the development of our provincial natural resources and overall economy.

NDP

  • Build upon the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law.
  • Support a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
  • Work with Alberta Indigenous Peoples to build a relationship of trust and ensure respectful consultation.
  • Work with federal and Indigenous governments to resolve land claims.
  • Improve the representation of Indigenous culture and history in Alberta’s school curriculum, and improve the availability of First Nations language programs.
  • Ensure Indigenous communities have reliable access to clean and safe drinking water.
  • Ensure Aboriginal children receive the services they need, regardless of jurisdiction.

Government

Progressive Conservative

  • Reduce government spending by $8.6 billion by 2017.
  • Increase government revenue by $6.1 billion.
  • Bring government spending in line with the national average by the 2018/19 fiscal year.
  • Increase expense transparency and produce a consolidated report on expenses.
  • Produce a savings report card every six months.
  • Ensure public reporting of international travel expenses for government officials.
  • Lower the salaries of the Premier, MLAs and Premier’s Office staff.
  • Reduce the size of cabinet.
  • Review all agencies, boards and commissions and eliminate the ones that are no longer necessary.

Wildrose

  • Balance the budget by 2017 without raising taxes or cutting frontline services.
  • Create an Independent Budget Office to provide independent analysis of budget.
  • Allocate 50% of future budget surpluses into the Heritage Fund, and 25% of budget surpluses in the Contingency Account until it reaches $5 billion, and then into a Debt Repayment Account.
  • Prohibit all government grants and loan guarantees to corporations.
  • Guarantee an open tendering and bidding process on all major government procurement and contracts.
  • Cap severance agreements for all publicly funded executives.
  • Ensure public disclosure of the government’s infrastructure priority list and the rationale for all infrastructure projects and maintenance.
  • Ensure $3.5 billion in spending reductions by 2017-18 and $13 billion in debt savings.
  • Roll back the 30% Cabinet pay increase and the 8% increase for MLAs.
  • End sole-sourced contracting and improve conflict of interest legislation.
  • Mandate that all travel expenses of elected officials and senior staff be fully and publicly disclosed.
  • Pass legislation to limit severance packages for all political staff and senior government and agency officials.
  • Use teleconferencing to limit executive travel by 50%
  • Improve transparency and accountability.
  • Strengthen the independent Offices of the Legislature such as the Auditor General, Ethics Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer.
  • Provide easier, fairer, and more affordable public access to Freedom of Information requests.
  • Protect whistleblowers who report unethical, wasteful, or other wrongful behaviour.
  • Implement full disclosure of all financial expenditures of public funds.
  • Strengthen democracy by restoring representative democracy through mandating all final votes in the Legislature be free and reported to the public.
  • Pass legislation banning MLAs elected under one party from crossing to another without a byelection.
  • Implement MLA recall legislation.
  • Allow all-party committees review and amend legislation.
  • Legislate fixed dates for provincial elections, the opening of legislative sessions, and the presentation of the budget and quarterly updates.

NDP

  • Ban corporate and union donations to political parties.
  • Make infrastructure decisions and funding priorities completely transparent to the public, as well as the actions of the province’s agencies, boards, and commissions.
  • Strengthen the Conflict of Interest Act to prevent MLAs from using their position to benefit themselves or their ridings.
  • Amend the elections act to prevent MLAs from using government resources during elections.
  • Respect the independence of all-party committees, as well as the Officers of the Legislature.

Rural Communities

Progressive Conservative

  • Improve the quality of the SuperNet (Alberta’s rural internet network).

Wildrose

  • Improve rural ambulance response times.
  • Implement the Wildrose 10/10 MSI plan so rural municipalities are immune from the threats, promises, politics, and unpredictability of provincial politicians.
  • Commit to doubling water and wastewater funding for the next 5 years.
  • Ensure that all road maintenance is done according to objective prioritization and that contractors are meeting all performance measures.
  • Provide more fairness and clarity to farmers and ranchers regarding their access to and use of land, water, and other private property.

NDP

  • Implement better access to medical and transportation services, and post-secondary education opportunities to rural communities.
  • Increase bus services to rural areas and ensure rural communities have access to needed medical, education, and infrastructure services.

Other issues

Progressive Conservative

  • Introduce Bill 1, the Respecting Property Rights Act, to protect private property rights.
  • Review the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (Bill 36) to ensure the land use planning process does not infringe on property rights.
  • Provide stable funding for research and innovation.
  • Invest in Heritage Scholarships for young people.
  • Draw from the Contingency Fund for government operations and funnel oil revenue to replenish the Fund once debts are paid off.
  • Allocate $6.7 billion over the next 5 years into transportation.
  • Complete the twinning of Highway 63.
  • Continue the construction of ring roads in Calgary and Edmonton.
  • Twin Highway 19 between QEII and Highway 60 near the Edmonton International Airport.
  • Develop a long-term transportation strategy that includes a plan for a sufficient road and transit networks across Alberta.
  • Complete the Trans Canada Trail in Alberta by 2017

Wildrose

  • Protect existing pension benefits for all public sector workers and pensioners.
  • Pass a motion to entrench the property rights of Albertans in the Canadian Constitution and amend Bill 36, the Land Stewardship Act, to protect individual property rights.
  • Amend the Alberta Energy Regulator’s legislation (Bill 2) to ensure Albertans’ rights to notification, hearing, and independent appeal are respected.

NDP

  • Use ‘smart regulation’ to bring Albertans fairer and stabler electricity prices.

Liberal

  • Enforce the Human rights act more assuredly by working to provide equal pay for both men and women.
  • Provide legal aid for those who require it.
  • Double funding for the arts, new media, and cultural industries.
  • Will remove $760 million from Carbon Capture and Storage funding, and reinvest it into front line government services.

 

Hopefully, you were able to isolate the issues most prominent and important to you, whether you support the economic emphasis of the Progressive Conservatives, or the environmental focus of the New Democrats. No matter who you choose to vote for, our goal here at The Wanderer is simply to increase voter knowledge, and assist Albertans in fully understanding how each party has prioritized the important issues within their platforms. Of course, if you want to go more in depth and look at the primary sources themselves, feel free to explore the Liberal, NDP, Progressive Conservative, and Wildrose platforms. We’ve also published a quick tip sheet for voters here, including how to find your polling station, and how to ensure you are registered to vote. We hope to see you out at the polls exercising your democratic right on May 5th!

CC Photography courtesy of Flickr user Mack Male

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  • karen

    what are the leaders going to do for the people on disability? I hope they put the amount up. we cant live on the amount we get. by the time you by rent an hydro an gas and water there is no money left for food.