MEDICINE HAT, AB -- Almost $4 billion dollars in funding promises have been announced during this provincial election campaign, the majority of it from one party.
The NDP has been making some large commitments, such as $100 million towards health care, and $25 dollar a day child care.
In fact the NDP has announced $3.5 billion in campaign promises so far.
“They are definitely trying to buy the election a little bit that way, they haven’t held back in a lot of areas,” says Jim Groom, political science instructor at Medicine Hat College, “They’re in a tough position because they also want to keep the debt down and they say they’re going to balance by 2023.”
Groom says the ability to support the heavy promises depends on Alberta’s economy after the election.
“It all depends on royalties after the election, if the oil industry gets back into operation, if we get pipelines,” says Groom. “If the bitumen bubble continues to be low or goes lower.”
Meanwhile, the UCP has had shallow pockets, promising almost $300 million in funding.
“It’s very contradictory for them to say ‘were going to balance the budget’,” says Groom. “Yet they don’t want to say ‘we’re going to do that on the backs of public services because we’re going to fire a whole bunch of folks or cut back on salaries.’”
According to Alberta’s third-quarter budget update, debt levels are estimated to hit $58.6 billion by the end March.
Groom says although the two situations are starkly different, each party is sticking to its ideology.
“They’ve sort of held back in the way and that sort of works to their ideology and so does the NDP’s spending ideology, it’s fairly consistent,” says Groom. “The campaign matters and we’re only halfway through the campaign and so I still think there’s a lot to be achieved here.”
Groom says the UCP looks like they’re in the lead right now.
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