Friday Focus: They Tried Taking Transit from the Poor

Last week Danielle Smith and the UCP proposed Bill 20 that would allow the provincial government to remove elected city and town councillors. This obvious intimidation tactic didn’t go over well in the cities or rural municipalities. The UCP had to change the narrative. So this week they said they would eliminate the grant that subsidizes low income transit riders in Calgary and Edmonton. 

Transit access for low-income people is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty. It makes it easier to get and keep a regular job, visit your doctor so you remain healthy enough to work at that job, and attend school to have better future jobs. The tax money collected from people having access to more work likely pays for the program. 

Massive outrage at the UCP’s cruel move caused them to quickly reverse course and restore funding, removing the immediate threat to municipal budgets. It also gave the provincial government time to promise some amendments to water down some aspects of Bill 20. But the contempt the UCP has for our vulnerable citizens and for local democracy is clear.

Decisions about local issues need to be decided locally. Cities need more powers, not fewer. Cities must rely on property taxes alone to keep operating. As the UCP cuts funding to cities for necessary programs, there are two choices. Either local property taxes go up or services get cut. Either way city dwellers suffer. And the vulnerable suffer the most.  

At the Alberta Liberal Party, we believe in policies that increase opportunities and reduce burdens on citizens. We are all better off if all members of our community can get around. We want people to have access to work, to education, to doctors, and to their friends and communities. Businesses benefit also.

The destruction caused by the UCP’s dramatic changes and the chaos caused by Premier Smith and her party must be stopped. We need Alberta Liberals in the legislature. We will continue to raise awareness of how the UCP is taking Alberta in the wrong direction, and do our best to right the UCP’s wrongs. To do that we need your help and appreciate your support.