Notley releases response to call for immediate budget approval

Mar 16 2020, 2:01 pm

NDP Party and official opposition leader Rachel Notley has responded to the Province of Alberta’s call for an immediate approval of the 2020 Budget.

In a press conference on Monday morning, Government House Leader Jason Nixon introduced several motions to the House, including a motion to immediately pass and amend the budget in order to allocate an additional $500 million to health services to combat the spread of COVID-19.

He stated that unanimous consent from the House would allow for the expedited passing of the budget, which would in turn see the amended healthcare funds reach those who need it.

Notley, however, sees the 2020 Budget as detrimental to the province’s healthcare system.

“While it has been argued that the budget provides more certainty than either interim supply or special warrants, that is simply NOT the case with Budget 2020,” Notley wrote in a letter to Premier Jason Kenney on Monday.

“A conservative estimate would suggest that the current version is short at least $8 billion in revenue. In addition, it includes numerous specific line items that profoundly underestimate necessary spending. The most obvious is Health.”

Notley stated that the current budget would, after adjusting for population and inflation, remove $460 million from the Ministry, even when including the additional $500 million increase to support front-line workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“What’s more, we know that the coming pressure on our healthcare system will far exceed status quo,” Notley wrote.

“It is our view that your government’s plan for healthcare falls far short of what Albertans need at this very challenging time.”

In lieu of including coronavirus support in the as-of-yet approved budget, Notley suggests passing interim legislation for special warrants to provide the province’s healthcare system with adequate support, and for Alberta’s government to reevaluate the 2020 Budget.

“Our Official Opposition is prepared to work with you to pass an interim supply bill on an expedited basis that includes provisions for the additional costs outlined above,” Notley wrote.

“We are not, however, prepared to accelerate a situation wherein the 2020 budget as it currently stands serves as the transparency and accountability tool for the people of Alberta for the next 12 months.”

The letter can be read in full here.

With coronavirus on the rise, Health Canada is reminding individuals who attend events and large gatherings to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. Also, due to unexpected cancellations, please check the event you plan to attend is still taking place. Keep up with COVID-19 news here.