On January 17, 2020, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation put out a news release to the public that Alberta’s debt was set to pass $70 billion that Sunday.
The Canadian Taxpayers association announced in the news release that the most recent budget is increasing spending by $174 million, which ends up adding about $30 billion to the provincial debt.
This report is setting off alarm bells for many Albertans from all walks of life, especially your everyday citizen. From economics majors, to small business owners, to students, Albertan’s are experiencing a money anxiety that has never been seen before in this province.
The UCP is adamant on not implementing a sales tax, but economics major Erika Waugh, says that Alberta should start following the lead of other Canadian provinces.
“Without a doubt in my mind adding a sales tax would be incredibly beneficial [for] Alberta,” said Waugh in a telephone interview. “A sales tax is the cheapest way for the government to collect taxes.”
Waugh has been studying economics for three years, and wrote a report on the budget last year. The UCP’s inaction to create a tax for the life Albertan’s want while simultaneously cutting government services worries her.
Waugh warns of how cutting these services will ultimately place a bigger burden on Albertan’s, especially the younger generation, and urges people to start saving more or simply, just move.
“I have absolutely no faith that our current government will reduce our debt.”
Anita Veluw is a single mother and small business owner of a cleaning company called Maid for You.
“When Alberta is in a hard spot, it always effects my business and I lose clients,” said Veluw in a face-to-face interview. “When Alberta falls on hard times, my middle-class clients are always the first to go.”
Her clients range from big offices to small busy families, but the only steady clients Veluw has are the ones who fall into the upper class.
“I am lucky because I will always have some sort of work,” said Veluw. “But, middle class families always have that anxiety of being laid off, [it’s] something I think the government needs to address fast.”
Like Waugh, Veluw doesn’t believe the UCP is capable of fixing Alberta’s debt, especially to help the middle class.
As Waugh mentioned, the burden of debt will only grow and continue to fall onto the shoulders of the younger generation.
Gurpinder Brar is a first-year electrical engineering student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), and pays roughly three to four thousand per semester. Thankfully, a job like electrical engineering will give him the freedom to move around Canada.
“Moving to a different province is what I plan to do at some point in my career,” said Brar in a face-to-face interview. “I would rather move to a province that has plans in place to balance a debt, rather than adding to it.”
One thing Brar brought up was where the money cities get are spent.
“Almost 600 million went towards a new arena for the Calgary Flames, why can’t the city give back to places like the U of C?” questioned Brar.
Brar thinks that post-secondary institutions in Alberta should work towards creating a more efficient system for students, so resources like textbooks don’t go to waste, instead of raising tuition.
“The tuition hike gives me anxiety,” said Brar. “There are a ton of costs in tuition I already deem unnecessary, like textbooks that 50 percent of the time aren’t used throughout the entire semester.”
The UCP has yet to comment on the rise in debt.
Photo courtesy of Flickr