EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition Wildrose party says its 10-year plan for capital spending would deliver what taxpayers want while avoiding debt by stretching out the timeline on projects.
“We can have everything. We just can’t have everything all at once,” leader Danielle Smith said Wednesday as she outlined the $48-billion plan.
It would allocate more than $21.6 billion to municipalities along with another $22.2 billion for school, hospital, and road construction. The remaining $4.2 billion would be for other non-core facilities.
Increases would be tied to population growth and inflation.
“The key word here is reasonable (spending),” said Smith.
“We can’t keep on ramping up spending to record levels every time the price of oil or gas spikes only to send it plunging back to earth just as fast when those revenues drop. That is just not responsible government.”
Smith said Alberta spends about $1,780 per person on capital projects — about 50 per cent more compared with other western provinces and Ontario.
Deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk attacked the Wildrose proposal as a “thin” back-of-the-napkin calculation with broad promises and little detail.
“The (Wildrose) refuses to come clean with Albertans over exactly which roads will not be paved this year, which specific schools won’t be built and which health-care facilities will be delayed,” he said in a news release. “The official Opposition continues to play political games.”
Redford has said her government will take on debt to pay for crucial infrastructure that she says can’t wait in a province with a population at 3.7 million and growing.
Smith, along with Wildrose finance critic Rob Anderson, said their party can’t debate the fate of specific projects until Redford’s government releases its list of priorities. Finance Minister Doug Horner delivers the budget March 7. Redford has warned it will contain “tough choices” because falling oil revenues have cut in half a forecasted $13-billion in oil and gas revenue.
A Wildrose government would make sure that the list was public, Smith said, to avoid politicians secretly fast-tracking pet projects.
“Our plan will take the politics out of public works spending,” she said.
“What you see with the PCs is they go around during election time and they promise all kinds of funding projects. Then they get deferred, delayed or, in the case of Fort Macleod (police college), they get cancelled.
“If you take a longer view and you’re open and transparent about it, I think communities will understand where they are on the list.
“I think communities will wait as long as they know that there was an objective and fair process to get on the list in the first place.”