The roundtable was attended by 7 different ethnic outlets (Alberta Filipino Journal, Himig Pinoy, Sur Sangam Radio, Times of Asia, Viva Yeg Latino, Diversity Magazine, World FM Ukrainian show) with 10 representatives.
Main concern: Will health care and education be affected by the budget cuts, and if so, what specifically will be targeted? Will the average citizen be affected in a large way, does this affect their way of life, their getting basic medical help, blood tests. Etc.?
Some of the questions asked were:
Radio Sur Sangam (Punjabi) Mr. Buttar:
Q. The realities between AB and BC are quite different; we are having a hard time keeping our graduates in AB now, with the slow economy and bad weather. If we were going to do a public sector wage freeze equivalent to other provinces, why would I stay in AB?
A. Minister: AB is a better province to live in I would suggest. The panel did compare wage levels with BC, ON and Quebec and it found AB’s spending was high on many fronts. The panel’s recommendations were that AB would bring its costs in line with the other provinces.
Q. Our education system is not at par with other parts of the country, why is it when you go to Millwoods you see some classrooms are still in portables? Why are we giving tax breaks, when our basic infrastructure is lacking?
A. Our government is committed to continue to build schools where necessary and health facilities as required. We are committed to focusing on key infrastructure that is vital to our global competitiveness. We will be focusing on infrastructure that will bring jobs and opportunities.
Ukrainian program 101.7 World FM Yuliana:
Q. How will these cuts be for the regular person, if I am to see the Dr. or need basic government programs?
A. We will not be cutting spending in healthcare and education, which makes bringing our budget to balance even more difficult. We will make the departments more efficient and find redundancies, particularly in the case of healthcare, finding new transformational ways to deliver healthcare. We are committed to delivering high quality front line services to Albertans.
AFJ – Alberta Filipino Journal – Lito and Nicky:
Q. The problem is spending, but how did all of this come about? When did this start in Alberta?
A. The previous government certainly inherited a high spend government, and the last government as the economy slowed down found ways to spend even more. The problem began shortly after we brought this province to balance after Ralph Klein. Our excessive spending developed when economy was doing well. The previous government they did not adjust the spending, and Albertans are now left with a larger problem. Dr. MacKinnon was clear, she said do not delay in bringing your budget to balance, if you delay this then balancing will be much more difficult.
If we are not living within our means, we are downloading our costs onto the next generation and we are robbing from them. That is why it is so critically important for us, that we bring our budget to balance.
We will be looking at eliminating redundancies, and ensuring that we are most efficiently providing high quality services to Albertans. We will be taking Mackinnon report recommendations seriously, as we finalize our budget.
The Mackinnon panel reports findings show we do not have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem relative to other provinces. We take this recommendation seriously and we will make sure that the hard-earned tax dollars of Albertans are going to the areas that really need it.