You are currently browsing the daily archive for April 20, 2011.

Alberta is facing many challenges as the next boom approaches.  It is more than likely that bounty of this boom will once again only benefit the rich and the larger corporations while yet again the people of Alberta must take a few of the crumbs that slip off the head table.  The last part of the Parkland Institute report deals with what we can do make Alberta a better province for everyone, not just certain classes of society.

“1 STRENGTHENING COMMUNITY SERVICES:
Shift away from a business approach to one based on core service delivery and away from reliance on generosity and charity to one based on rights.

Recommendation 1: Develop a more inclusive and supportive attitude toward community service providers including:
• increased funding that is stable and longer-term;
• funding for staffing compensation equal to comparable direct public sector programs;
• accountability that is based on appropriate and manageable indicators and data collection; and
• funding and support to expand on community hub models for community-based service grouping and delivery.”

Accountable and based on data rather than whims of the rich?  Novel idea.

“2 A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ALL ALBERTANS:
Improve access to quality social programs, increasing leisure time and reducing stress on families.

Recommendation 2: Provide greater support to improve the quality of life for all Albertans including: increased spending and program expansion related to culture and leisure, childcare and early learning, education, health care; and reduce working hours through shorter work weeks and increased vacation. Key recommendations include:
• expand community based public health services for Aboriginal communities and implement no child left behind policy;
• fully fund and deliver early learning programs based on the public school model (including junior and full-day kindergarten);
• fund universities to reduce tuition rates to $1,000 per year across all programs;
• increase paid leaves and reducing work hours to match European averages; and
• create adequate publicly funded, non-profit child care spaces at $7 per day.”

Will it be expensive to implement?  Oh yes, but no more expensive that paying for the results of our current societal choices in terms of health care, police and prisons.

“3 INVESTING IN HOUSING AFFORDABILITY
Recommendation 3: Fulfill promise to eradicate homelessness by 2019 by complying with commitment of $3.3 billion in spending and building the necessary 8,000 new housing units.”

Are we just 8,000 units of affordable housing away in Alberta from making it a reality that no person needs to die of exposure during the winter?  Instead of squabbling over powerlines and utility deregulation(still a bad idea) why isn’t this at the top of the political agenda?

“4 ENSURING DIGNITY AND AN ADEQUATE INCOME FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE
Recommendation 4: Strengthen the province’s social safety net through the development of programs that are universal, accessible and delivered in a non-stigmatizing manner. This includes:
• phase in a livable guaranteed annual income (GAI) to bring together programs for seniors, people with disabilities, unemployed workers, students and low income workers; and
• while working towards the GAI, social assistance rates need to be increased to the poverty line, rates must be indexed to inflation, asset levels increased, application process simplified, eligibility expanded and wait time shortened.”

Whot?  Free handouts for the lazy??  How dare they?  There will always be people who unfairly profit at societies expense, we stigmatize the poor because the rich do not want us to closely examine their privileged state and the dodges they are currently employing to game the system in their favour.  Better to hit the poor hard and then cry for more police and prisons to warehouse the poor, all the while neglecting the conditions responsible for a good portion of the criminality.

5 PROTECTING WORKERS:
Improve income security, equality and quality of life through expanded worker protections.

“Recommendation 5: Provide more comprehensive protection and assistance to those working full-time, full-year to ensure an adequate standard of living. This includes:
• implement a living wage policy;
• strengthen labour protections including both employment standards and labour organizing procedures; and
• abandon the temporary foreign worker program, and expedite and better support foreign credential recognition.

Nothing radical here, just making working conditions adequate for all Albertans, not just those lucky enough to be part of a union.

“6 DEMOCRACY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
Recommendation 6: Reform the democratic process to ensure that it accurately represents Alberta’s population diversity and distribution. This includes:
• adopt a proportional representation electoral system;
• establish an independent body with representation from Aboriginal, newcomers and women’s groups;
• implement an accountability and reporting system based on well-being indices; and
• work with Aboriginal groups to increase funding for and expand a comprehensive, community-based, culturally appropriate policy agenda with targets for improving quality of life and reducing disparities.”

PR would be a breath of fresh air in the stagnant backwater that is Alberta politics.  Proof? The PC have been in power for longer than I have been alive, it really is time for a change.

“7 PROGRESSIVE REVENUE REFORM
Recommendation 7: Re-establish the link between taxes and public services. Revenues should be returned to levels that allow continued support commensurate with changing demographics and inflation for public goods like health care, education, and social programs that Albertans feel are citizenship rights. This includes:
• reinstate progressive taxes, with increased progressivity at the top end and brackets indexed to inflation;
• raise corporate taxes to the Canadian average;
• reinstate the liquor tax;
• remove gambling revenues from general revenues and instead adequately fund arts and culture, communities and early learning from progressive taxes; and
• collect all natural resource rents and keep them out of general revenues for use in building a future for the province.”

The first sentence is the most important – “Re-establish the link between taxes and public services.”  This linkage needs to be reestablished so people can see the results of their taxes working for them making their lives better.  The current decline in the standards of living in Alberta can be traced back to when this link was broken and we have been picking up the pieces ever since.

“Alberta is at a crossroad. This report has highlighted what it means to have economic growth at the expense of social cohesion. With over 80 per cent of incomes concentrated in only half of households and the lowest ranking in the nation for sense of belonging to their communities, Alberta needs a new policy framework. This report provides the framework for a new development path; one where economic growth serves social goals and where disparity is minimized, ensuring an adequate income, quality of life and dignity for all Albertans.”

Could not say it better myself.  :)

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