An article (AUMA in the hunt for new funding deal with province) and editorial (Alberta lacks tax fairness) in the March 14 Advocate criticized how much funding the Alberta government provides to municipalities. While we expect there to be different opinions on how all levels of government collect and spend money on behalf of citizens, we take issue with the belief that the provincial government does not provide municipalities with a fair share of the dollars we bring in. Let us explain why.
Strong cities are critical to the success of our province — that is why 75 per cent of this year’s provincial budget is going to support Alberta communities and the families that call them home. Included in this is the flagship Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), which has provided over $3 billion since 2007 directly to projects that are under the control of Alberta cities. The program has helped build or upgrade many municipal public transit systems, recreation and sport facilities, and roadways and bridges across Alberta. But the fact is the MSI is just one way the Alberta government helps to make our communities some of the best places to live in the country.
You need only think of a typical day for most Albertans to see how much the provincial government spends to ensure our communities are great places to live. Every time a student enters a school or college, there are provincial tax dollars at work. If you’ve recently visited a parent in an assisted living residence, you’ve seen what a difference provincial support makes. And if you’ve visited a library, taken your child to play at a community recreation centre or have a family member who benefits from the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped or other social programs, you’ve seen provincial dollars invested. And that’s not all.
In Red Deer, construction will continue this year on the Central Alberta Cancer Centre, with completion expected in spring 2013. It will mean that people who used to have to travel to Calgary or Edmonton for radiation treatment will soon be able to get the care they need closer to home. Other funding for Red Deer this year will help take more cars off the streets and encourage people to use public transit through the provincial GreenTRIP program.
The bottom line is that direct funding to municipalities only makes up a portion of the provincial taxpayer dollars that support Red Deer and other communities across Alberta. Every day you, we and the other 85 per cent of Albertans who live in our cities benefit from the programs and services provided by the province. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that all levels of government are hard at work to keep Alberta communities strong.
MLA, Red Deer South
Mary Anne Jablonski
MLA, Red Deer North