UCP’S SECOND-QUARTER UPDATE IGNORES ECONOMIC REALITIES OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC
EDMONTON – The UCP have tabled a second-quarter update that paints an overly optimistic picture of Alberta’s economy as the province is in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, UCP Finance Minister Travis Toews claimed Alberta’s economy was recovering just hours before the province was expected to announce additional restrictions due to record high COVID-19 case counts in the past few days.
“This update ignores the fiscal and economic realities facing our province,” said NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips. “It should show us what this government’s done to keep us safe and the economy moving. We don’t see any of that in these documents.”
In the update, Toews made an unprecedented attack on public servants by claiming they take money out of the economy through taxes and are a burden on future taxpayers.
“I would encourage the Premier to look a frontline nurse in the eyes after a 12 hour shift in an emergency room full of COVID-19 and tell him or her they’re a drain on our society,” responded Phillips.
This past spring, the UCP passed a budget as the first COVID-19 wave hit the province. The NDP had called for the government to rewrite the budget to reflect the economic crisis, but those calls were ignored. Shortly after introducing the budget, Toews admitted “It felt like Rome was burning” as he introduced the budget and the projections were quickly outdated.
Just weeks ago, the Auditor General found $1.6 billion in accounting errors by the UCP government that included changes to AISH payments, hiding payments for Keystone XL, and the War Room handing out sole source contracts without proper justification, documentation, or oversight.
“Simply put, the UCP can’t be trusted to manage the province’s finances or the economy. The first wave of COVID-19 was on our doorstep, but the UCP acted like everything was fine,” said Phillips. “Now in the midst of a second wave, we see the outcome of this government’s poor planning. We have an out-of-control pandemic, an absent Premier and one of the slowest economic recoveries in Canada.”