Four United Conservative Party candidates were in Red Deer Tuesday evening in the race to become the next party leader. (From left) Candidate Jason Kenney, Doug Schweitzer, Brian Jean and Jeff Callaway at the Red Deer Memorial Centre. (Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff)

VIDEO: United Conservative Party candidates talk social services

Red Deer forum attracts about 700 supporters

Leadership candidates for the United Conservative Party say growing the economy, improving efficiencies and looking to the private sector are ways to provide needed social services while maintaining fiscal sustainability in Alberta.

“You can’t redistribute wealth to those who are less fortunate unless people are creating that wealth through their hard work in the first place,” said candidate Jason Kenney before a crowd of almost 700 UCP supporters at the leadership forum at the Memorial Centre on Tuesday night.

“We want to be a generous and compassionate society, but first we must be a prosperous one and the best social program is a good job.”

The former PC leader called for restoring investor confidence, getting rid of the carbon tax, reducing other tax rates as soon as possible, cutting red tape, stopping the increase in power prices caused by the NDP shutting down coal, stopping further increases in minimum wage, and fighting for market access through pipelines.

Candidate Doug Schweitzer agreed becoming competitive through tax relief and innovation in service delivery is needed to improve social services.

“Let’s work with the social entrepreneurs, the not-for-profits, who know how to get value out of a dollar,” the Calgary lawyer said.

He said local communities know best what their communities need and talked about the public campaign in Red Deer to improve cardiac services.

“They want to make sure they can make decisions in their community that work,” Schweitzer said.

Candidate Brian Jean said Alberta needs to find efficiencies by reining in spending to provide social services Albertans need.

The former Wildrose Party leader said he could balance the budget in three years by freezing all new hires for the public sector without firing any front-line staff. It could all be done through attrition.

Candidate Jeff Callaway said the private sector can help when it comes to social services.

“We understand to our core as conservatives that government isn’t always the solution. In fact it probably delivers the solutions in the most inefficient manner,” said the former Wildrose president.

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