The Friday Focus is a weekly blog post from Interim Leader John Roggeveen. It covers some of the pressing political issues of the week.
The UCP's recent fiscal update revealed a $3.9 billion surplus last fiscal year. Growing demand for oil and natural gas and a post-pandemic economic recovery is, for the time being, filling provincial coffers. As a result, despite the UCP's fiscal and economic mismanagement, Alberta has a surplus for the first time in seven years.
This isn't the first time global energy prices have buoyed Alberta's budget. We're at another high point on the resource rollercoaster. While the UCP is content to enjoy the ride and continue to slash funding to needed programs, I have a different perspective.
Being fiscally responsible is about more than running a surplus. It's about using the resources you have to the fullest and planning for the future. I want to highlight four ways we can use the surplus to build a stronger, more sustainable Alberta:
- Invest in Healthcare Solutions: We need to spend smarter on healthcare. Investments in mental health, homecare and preventative healthcare can drive down long-term costs and provide better services. In addition, spending on solutions will make us physically and financially healthier in the long run.
- Preparing for the Energy Transition: Oil and gas are riding high now, but we must prepare for alternative energy sources to take a bigger share of the global energy market. Alberta must invest in these industries while seeking to help our existing oil and gas industry transition to net-neutral emissions.
- It Starts with Education: Education is the bedrock of our economy and our society. Yet Alberta has overcrowded classrooms and underfunded post-secondary institutions. Let's use these good times to hire more teachers, build more schools and reverse the draconian cuts to post-secondary.
- A Helping Hand Lifts All: Poverty and homelessness affect us all. They impede economic growth and bog down our justice and healthcare systems. We must invest in programs to reduce poverty and homelessness. Not only will it help the most disadvantaged, but we can also create a stronger Alberta.
Tomorrow is Canada Day. Our nation was founded on a dream of a better future. In that spirit, this Canada Day please dream big with me. Let's reflect on the ways we can build a better future for Albertans and work towards making that dream a reality.