For Immediate Release
March 26, 2015
EDMONTON – UFCW Local 401, the province’s largest private sector union, is condemning the Prentice government on using today’s budget to once again enter an era of punishing working Albertans for the years of waste and cronyism perpetuated by PC governments. While the long awaited budget contained few surprises, the union noted that the cuts it implemented will make life more difficult for Alberta families who are already struggling – including many UFCW Local 401 members.
Hiding behind the drop in oil prices as the excuse for this crisis, the finance Minister Robin Campbell announced deep and sweeping cuts to healthcare and hinted at cuts to wages for government workers.
“Dropping oil prices have only compounded today’s crisis, but there is no doubt PC government’s are responsible for running this province’s wealth off the road”, UFCW Local 401 President, Doug O’Halloran said.
The announced cut of approximately 1700 frontline healthcare staff will result in more frustration for Albertans who already suffer unforgivably long wait times in emergency rooms, as well as long wait times for surgeries. The return of a healthcare premium, which is simply another tax, is a further slap in the face to working Alberta families.
“Albertans will be forced to pay an added mandatory fee for the privilege of a starved healthcare system” O’Halloran said. “The PCs claim they don’t want to close beds or de-insure services and yet they’ve pledged to cut $300 million from Alberta Health Services. That’s an awfully big rabbit to pull out of the hat and I’m just not buying it,” O’Halloran continued.
Campbell talked about putting money into the Heritage Fund, a familiar fairytale and an obvious attempt to fool Albertans into believing the government wants to save money. But O’Halloran wonders what the PCs have been doing for all these years that so little has been saved.
Under this budget, the province’s debt will increase, new and increasing taxes will be at unprecedented levels creating a crushing challenge for our members and all Alberta’s working families. Additionally, tuition fees will be hiked, deep cuts will be made to vital services, and it’s clear that there will be more attacks on workers in the public sector. All of this will take place against the backdrop of zero increased taxes to corporations and continuation of corporate welfare, and tax breaks for the wealthiest Albertans in the later years of the plan.
“It’s shocking how this government has once again squandered the vast resources of the richest province in the country”, said O’Halloran. “How this government can continue to ignore the needs of Albertans, tell them to look at themselves in the mirror and take blame is beyond me.”
For more information contact:
President, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 401
Posted on: March 26,2015