The Stelmach administration is a new kind of administration for Alberta – one that governs by doing nothing and crossing its fingers, hoping for better times to magically appear. This is a time of great economic turmoil all over the world, and the Premier, having squandered Alberta’s wealth, just doesn’t know how to deal with it.
Aside from antagonizing oil and gas companies with his ever-changing royalty regimes – with another re-jigging reportedly coming in October – and using his ministers as “bad cops” to slash public sector jobs, the Premier has done nothing to address the serious challenges facing Alberta:
· Record deficit – $7 billion and climbing, plus a $1.1 billion health deficit accumulated since the Premier’s administration merged the health regions
· Highest unemployment rate in 13 years – 7.4 percent, representing over 157,000 unemployed Albertans, up more than double from last year
· 102 percent increase in bankruptcies
· ER wait times: median of 16.6 hours in Calgary’s three hospitals as of February 2008; averages between 22.6 and 27.8 hours at Edmonton hospitals as of March 2009; Stelmach administration has stopped publishing statistics on ER wait times since then
· Rent supplements for Albertans at risk of homelessness have run out
· Home foreclosures have more than doubled in just two years, from 2,510 in 06-07 to 5,300 today
If I were Premier, I’d immediately stop the wasteful spending on public relations, hospitality, severance packages and bonuses and redundant MLA committees. I’d take action on oil and gas royalties to bring the fairness and stability needed to help industry recover. I’d forge a common sense plan to tackle the deficit and fix public health care. We’ve had enough panels and committees and studies; it’s time for action, action that’s grounded in an honest analysis of our situation, the best advice from real experts, and the long-term public interest of all Albertans. Instead, the Premier is paralyzed by indecision.