The Alberta government named its 2013 Budget the “Responsible Change” budget. Well it appears to me that the definition of “responsible” has changed drastically over the years because the definition I am familiar with is not reflected in that budget. From what I’ve seen I would call it the “Lets Maintain the Old Boys Club” budget. It continues to erode supports to the marginalized of this province while giving corporate Canada every imaginable benefit. And this is done under the guise of “economic development”. Have you looked at economic development in Alberta lately?
The national Report on Business recently released the 2012 top 1000 companies ranked by profit. Excluding the banks, occupying six of the top ten spots, Alberta based resource companies dominates the top 20. Companies like Suncor (#5), Imperial Oil (#6), Canadian Natural Resources (#11), Husky Energy (#14) and TransCanada Corporation (#20) are all in the top twenty and their positions are up considerably since the 2011 rankings.
Combine those profits and the fact that Alberta is third in the country tapping into the temporary foreign workers program (more than 70,000 behind only Ontario and BC) you start to realize these companies don’t need help creating jobs. They have the money so why are we scaling back on education, health and services that every day Albertans dependent on.
And who gets hit the most with this new budget? The ones most marginalized, those living with disabilities and aging. When I look at profits like those reported above and then see a cut in our provincial budget of $42 million (a 45% cut) in community access funding for the disabled I really have to wonder what has happened to the compassionate and caring Canada of the past. Does anybody know how many pensioners are living at home with their 55 year old handicapped child and are dependent on those programs? I know a few but since the federal government did away with the Participations and Activities Study that accompanied the former long form census we will never know. However what I am hearing is not only will the disabled be hurt but the pensioner (saving $9 million on the backs of seniors) will be driven into deeper destitute than what they already been dealing with due to seniors cuts.
However one act in itself does not an attack make, as many would tell me. Well then lets throw a few other factors into the mix, after all this government depends on us living in silos. With the Canadian government introducing new tariffs on 72 “graduating” countries, there will be an increase of $331 million to the federal coffers but does anyone have any idea what the increase to medical supplies will be? Where I work, a medical supply house, we get a lot of parts and materials from those same countries. Who will absorb those costs? The provincial governments and the tax payers.
The repercussions of the cuts to advanced education have also dribbled down to the disabled. With institutes like Mount Royal University cutting the disability studies program ( two year program designed to prepare people to work with the disabled) the supply of affordable but trained individuals will also dry up. I don’t know many four year university graduates that will work for the type of money many of these community care aides receive. $16 an hour is not a career, it’s a passing through job!
But lets not stop with funding or services, why not throw a bit of gas on the old stigma bandwagon as well. The federal government has now introduced Bill C-54. To toughen the laws for people declared “not criminally responsible (NCR)” spreads more fear regarding people suffering with a mental illness than serve justice. To say an individual with a severe cognitive disorder should be subject to a different level of law than other types of disabilities is a bigger indictment on societies ability to take care of those most in need rather than protecting victims. I fully support victims and their loved ones but I don’t believe we serve justice by removing the protections formally offered to NCR’s.
Put all of this together and you could weave a rug! So I ask you, is a simple cut of 44% cut to one budget item an attack or are all of the factors mentioned above a result fo a combination of government policies being implemented without looking at all of the effects?
Just one mans opinion!