“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” – Anatole France “Burden-sharing”
When Mr Prentice announced the 5% cut in MLA pay he sanctimoniously declared: “The term I’ve used is ‘burden-sharing’…no one can ask the taxpayers of this province to shoulder responsibility that those of us in government aren’t prepared to do first and foremost.”* Ahhh…the principle of “majestic equality”.
When Anatole France used the term he was being ironic; when Mr Prentice used its less eloquent equivalent he was not. Mr Prentice is setting the stage for yet another us-against-the-unions battle over pay packets…packets that we the people, as represented by our government, already agreed were reasonable.
Myths and facts Let’s check the myths of “burden-sharing” against the facts before we decide the unions have it coming to them:
Myth #1: Mr Prentice says public services are financed by $10 billion in oil royalties and the drop in oil royalties means that funding the public sector is “unsustainable”**
Not true: Public services are financed by general revenue (corporate taxes, personal taxes and royalties on oil, oil sands, natural gas and coal). Oil royalties are not “earmarked” for public services and a drop in oil royalties does not automatically result in a drop in public sector funding unless the Premier makes it so.
Myth #2: Public sector wages are 12% higher in Alberta than the rest of the country and must return to the Canadian average. Why? Mr Prentice touts Alberta as the “best province” in Canada with the highest GDP. Not surprisingly, private sector wages are 24% higher in Alberta than the rest of Canada. Shouldn’t the public sector be allowed to share in the “bounty” as well as the “burden”?
Myth #3: Ninety-seven percent of the public sector have defined benefit (“gold standard”) pensions but only 39% in the private sector does.
This may be true (who knows, it’s a Fraser Institute “fact”) but the Fraser Institute fails to consider other benefits offered by the private sector—including a 17% to 25% pay bump in some companies—to offset the loss of a defined benefit plan; nor did it mention that companies like TransCanada Pipeline, the builders of Keystone, have moved back to defined benefit pensions for their employees.
Myth #4: The 5% MLA wage cut demonstrates “leadership” on the part of the premier and the MLAs. Mr Prentice’s $218,000 salary will drop to $207,000. Other MLAs’ pay will drop from $200,000 to $190,000.
A moment please while we applaud Mr Prentice for forgoing $11,000 after making millions as a CIBC bank executive.
The sad truth is that even with the 5% pay cut MLAs will earn $100,000 to $150,000 more than the average registered nurse ($64,000), teacher ($58,000 to $99,000), paramedic ($65,000 to $95,000) or lab assistant ($28,000).
It is not “leadership” to fall on a paper sword.
Furthermore, two-thirds of the government’s revenue is in the hands of government appointed agencies, boards and tribunals (ABCs). Mr Prentice has not suggested that the ABC executives, some of whom earned between $635,000 and $3.4 million last year, cut their pay by 5%.
The public sector’s response (*raspberry*)
Mr Prentice is the latest in a long line of Tory premiers trying to deflect attention from Tory mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility by demonizing the public sector. Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, isn’t having any of it.
He says AUPE already agreed to a 0% increase in three out of the last five years—this equates to a 6% pay cut when you factor in inflation. AUPE shouldered the “burden” years ago while MLAs voted to increase their own salaries by 8% and paid themselves extra for not attending “no meet” committee meetings. All the while teachers taught in crumbling, overcrowded schools and healthcare workers worked in leaking, rodent infested hospitals under collective agreements they signed in good faith. They should not be pressured into “sharing the burden” (again!) with the idiots who got us here in the first place.
Under Mr Prentice’s leadership the rich as well as the poor will give up 5% of their pay. The rich won’t sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread; but the poor might have to.
Ahhh…majestic equality Tory style…
*Calgary Herald, Jan 30, 2015, A4
Brilliant as always! Up on my website & FB David
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks David and CONGRATULATIONS on becoming the interim Liberal leader! Please let me know what I can do to help you.
Not sure I would sleep under bridges – like schools and hospitals, lots of them are crumbling too….. But, the govt has a newly furnished Federal Bldg (at outrageous cost and delays) here in Edmonton, perhaps they can make room there.
Sent from my iPad
Great idea Jim! The Federal Bldg is a symbol of Tory waste and financial mismanagement. It started in 2009 and was supposed to be finished in 2012. It didn’t get finished until 2015. Original cost was supposed to be $356M. That dropped to $225M when oil prices fell (cutback in the bust) and then climbed to $403M (splurge in the boom). And now Prentice wants the unions to “share the burden”. Are you kidding me???
How about the lavish building for the Zamboni that would be used for the skating rink?? We could have supported the skating rink as a public asset … but NO! we will cancel the skating rink! Grrrr……
Also think we should begin to speak of the salary of the Premier (and other high paid public ‘servants’) in terms of $$ per month! Who else considers it a hardship when he goes from $18,166 to $17,250 per MONTH …. out of the public purse!! Also considering that 1/3 of that salary is tax exempt. This gravy train just keeps on chugging along!
Good point Jane…I’d forgotten about the tax exempt aspect of MLA pay. Oh and just to be clear, at this point it’s only Prentice and his Cabinet Ministers who’ve agreed to the so-called pay cut, but the rest of the MLAs will follow suit when the matter comes to a vote in committee this Wednesday. None of those sheep MLAs has the courage to ask Prentice whether this is indicative of his plan–deal with the $7 billion budget hole by pitting Albertans against Albertans?
Another Alberta Progressive Conservative classic is rolled out yet again. The government screws up and all Albertans pay. Of course Jim can claim that he wasn’t there at the time and is not responsible for anything that happened as a result. Yet he is practicing the same standard government con game as his predecessors have played in the past. Albertans are reslient, they’re tough yatta yatta yatta, he proclaims. I would think that this time around most Albertans would find themselves on the seething scale somewhere between rage and apoplexy.Time will tell.
Ted, I don’t understand why Prentice thinks he can shirk responsibility for the party he chose to lead by simply saying, “Wasn’t me, wasn’t here”, and in the very next breath trot out the same tired old tactics (I’m loath to call them that because “tactics” imply some degree of thoughtful analysis) his predecessors used. The “us-against-the-unions” has been used over and over again. It’s time for ALL Albertans to stand with the unions against this morally and financially bankrupt government.
Perhaps Jim and the rest of the neoliberal gang should be wondering about economic and political ideas that will improve society for everyone instead of scheming to screw people of modest means.
Anonymous, I’m wondering how you find these songs so quickly. Wondering…do wah bop bop. 🙂
Thank you Susan for putting into words exactly what this Albertan feels. Prentice should be ashamed of his worker bashing tactics.
You’re welcome John. This is a dangerous time for democracy in Alberta. Prentice holds all the power. He can do anything he wants. Rather than dealing with the $7 billion budget hole responsibly he’s following in Klein’s footsteps and is pitting Albertans against each other. Sickening.
Mr. Prentice is simply doing the same old, same old Tory baloney that is done every single time when we have a bust in Alberta.
Albertans don’t seem to care about the failure in ideas, policies and action in government. The entire society seems fossilized. What is so surprising to me is that the public sector folks actually buy into this strategy every single election—-where the Tories offer bribes to the public sector employees who vote for them and then, after the election, when they are re-elected, the Tories simply bash the public sector in all the ways possible. This sort of abuse is not tolerated with reference to spouses and yet it is endlessly endured by the public sector folks who seem to believe in the Tories no matter what.
The 5% cut to executive wages won’t harm the high end staff and will be reversed right after the Tories are re-elected but this was a fun thing for the Prentice to do so that he could sanctimoniously preach to the unconverted. Preaching is all this guy can do now since the coffers are empty.
The Tories begin to sound like bible thumping old time preachers. I’m guessing the abused public sector employees have had their final beating. These folks ain’t gonna take it anymore. In my area of Edmonton, we have old time Tories so it isn’t surprising that the Mandel guy got in; any wolf in Tory clothing gets in. But I’m pretty sure that the ordinary citizens in other parts of Edmonton, are waiting for their chance to kick Tory rump. It won’t be pretty in Edmonton –unless the beatings the public sector employees have had with all the premiers from the Klein error on —have addled their brains so that they will vote Tory until the end. Some public sector employees seem to have voted for the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta the last time around to ensure that the Wildrosies don’t win but now that we have the Wildrosies inserted into the genome of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta I’m guessing they will look elsewhere. I mean why vote Tory– if you are really voting for the wild Tories?
Mr. Prentice is pretty cunning. He fooled me in the last buy-elections. I never expected him to bring back Mandel from the retirement farm, by parachuting him in as a health minister without any sort of background in health; after all he had told us that we could not expect more public service from that developer puppet. Because of Prentice’s tricks, I no longer believe anything he says. If he can be disingenuous with voters about substitution of Hancock with Mandel (worse with worst) then he can be guaranteed to be a real old bugger about other things such as the cutbacks to the public sector that are imminent. He will say that the 5% cutbacks are to save jobs, then he will force the cutbacks on the public sector that won’t voluntary accept them and finally he will terminate them anyway. It’s an old strategy but a good one for the Tories since they present themselves as fiscal conservatives when in reality they are incompetent fools.
But for now we have him playing the violin about there ain’t no money. Sure this is true. The Tories spent it all. Blowing up hospitals in the Klein error to only rebuild them in the Prentice error isn’t a very fiscally conservative practice and liable to only enrich party donors who are engaged in construction of said hospitals. But at least some of us have got rich blowing up and building hospitals.
The next provincial election will be interesting since the Tories lack their usual boom to push them to the top. I am curious how the Tories are going to win elections without all the bribes they have used on the citizen sheep. It’s a lot harder to buy votes without money. And with oil in the toilet, and supply of oil in excess, I’m guessing this dearth of cash is going to be a long period of famine.
Now if we had been really smart, we could have had a ton of cash in the Heritage Trust Fund that has been devolved into a sort of emergency fund for the Tories. We could have lived off the interest and had a major amount as the principal sum. Instead, everyone and their dogs who pay money to the Tories as donations appear to have cashed in and profited and we’re sucking lemons.
The saddest part is the stress and trouble this sort of dumb governance puts on the most vulnerable citizens in Alberta. At the Good Samaritan extended care at Millwoods where my sister lives for example, they were engaged in very poor respiratory practices and services; the patient care based funding business has ensured that long term care providers find cost savings in any way they can.
In my handicapped sister’s case they found these cost savings simply by cutting staff so that we have fewer RNs who actually know what the heck they were doing and using LPNs and other less trained workers. They also failed to provide a respiratory therapist for respiratory patients for 2 years out of the five years my sister has been at this place.
They fiddled with required supplies that had to be supplied every six months and on a yearly basis. They didn’t keep records. They were playing with safety and health of patients. When my sister was at home she got a BiPaP mask every year and a liner replacement every six months. At this place I don’t know when they replaced her masks (if they did it) and they were downloading such purchases to families when it is the responsibility of the care provider to ensure that these supplies are covered. You get the idea I hope.
As for the oversight bodies? They’re all in this together. The AHS audits these long term care places according to appointments. The care managers at the sites ensure everything is right for the visit.
Meanwhile as Rome burns, everyone is in chaos. My sister went to the emergency repeatedly because of poor care. There were no ultimate cost savings as the cutbacks to the long term care resulted in costs in terms of an acute care bed. Meanwhile we were lost about the real reasons for my sister nearly kicking the bucket repeatedly at this place.
Families don’t know what the hell is going on. I only found out about the major failures in respiratory care when I took my sister’s BiPaP mask and machine for a check up at Vitalaire. Then I discovered the machine and mask were in terrible shape and the data card that records compliance was missing. This is odd—I thought. Why would the facility remove the data card unless it was to ensure no record existed? ? I got a second machine from the facility with a data card and found out from such surveillance that the staff did not put on the machine for two adverse events—in the first adverse event they did not put on my sister’s machine for 55 days out of 60 days. Then they put on the machine properly for a second month. Then the second adverse event of the staff not putting the machine on for 17 days out of 30 days. The facility has no adverse event protocol that I can find. I mean I had to do the respiratory trouble shooting for the facility to find all the respiratory problems that were confronting my sister. The respiratory therapist merely told me that it is good for me to do the data card downloads! I had to find out about the mask problems, the leak from the mask, the failures of staff who did not put on the BiPaP machine. I had to sit with staff and train them to do the putting on of the machine. I had to take my sister to the pulmonary specialist to find out the range of oxygen saturation that was safe for her and get the staff to modulate the oxygen levels so that they did not give her too much oxygen. I had to request blood gas work so that physicians would find out that it was her respiratory condition that was the problem. Staff at the Good Samaritan extended care were yapping about my sister having this urinary tract infection when the real reason she was non-functional was that her carbon dioxide level was at 98%. You get the idea. It’s a farce of respiratory care. I now go to the facility every single night or get someone from the family to go to my sister to see that the machine is on every night.
Mr. Prentice makes me laugh.
What will his 5% cut do for the patients like my handicapped sister in the failing long term care system?
What will his 5% cut do for increasing the intelligence of the AHS folks who don’t do random spot audits or talk to families to find out what the hell is going on in long term care?
What will his 5% cut do for the low staffing levels at facilities where a single RN has to deal with 60 very sick patients at night?
The Prentice has no ideas for these major problems in our society.
Yet they continue with the political baloney year after year.
The politics of this group of people is stunning.
The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta is serving only the oil and gas industry and themselves. The AHS serves only itself and their audits are all chatter and no action.
Real action would be to publicly release all information on facilities that do not meet the standards of care. Real action would be disciplinary action with reference to employees that do not live up to their professional duties. Real action would be for folks to be terminated when they are incompetent.
I’m sure this will never happen.
This is after all Alberta.
This is a place where families have to take care of their own and hold all these incompetent people accountable.
What’s the role of Prentice and crew?
Diversion, division and dalliance.
These folks aren’t interested in intelligent governance, solutions to problems of citizens or the fiscal waste created by the most highly paid among the government workers who talk and produce nothing.
These folks are only interested in staying in power.
Instead of actions that will help the citizens we have a group of self serving people all through the system and we can only expect more of these dumb statements from the Prentice that mean nothing, change nothing and will continue the culture of change nothing in Alberta.
But he has to say something I guess.
OMG, Julie! This is just so difficult to swallow. I am heartsick as I read your account of your sister’s care … or lack thereof! As a retired administrator in healthcare and a former consultant, I know just how simple it is to fix these challenges … and it’s the upstream thinking that will save downstream expenses …. but one needs to have the best and most capable practitioners closest to the delivery of care. Also, administration needs to be on site … not at meetings in some metro-urban high rise working with a smartboard or at a huge board table the bulk of the time!!
Julie, thank you for sharing your story about your sister’s suffering and the strain it places on you and your family. There’s really nothing I can add other than to confirm your comment that the fact that Mr Prentice and his good friend Mr Mandel tolerate this abuse indicates where their priorities lie. Albertans aren’t prepared to stand for it anymore. The people of Greece rebelled against a government controlled by corporations and bankers and we can too. The election will come soon. Find the best progressive candidate and volunteer, donate, vote for him/her. We can change this government one riding at a time.
Take care my friend. Your sister is so fortunate to have you on her side.
I am disgusted that Albertans do not see Jim Prentice for what he really is. A PC Party Faithful scheming to keep the Tories in power any way he can. He repeats all of Alison Redford’s talking points on the price of oil dropping (guess the PC Party keeps those notes in a vault to pull out when needed), he makes promises and does not deliver, he hires his buddy Jay D. Hill (who incidentally is a self-professed lobbyist who has been in trouble for his dealings with the government) and makes the rules as he goes along. Trying to “open the eyes” of his sheep followers is like banging your head against a brick wall. They only care what they can get today and not how it will affect future generations. Are we really turning into a society that only cares about ourselves and today?
Kim, the other person who appears to have tremendous sway over the Premier is Rick Dawson, the head of the PR/government relations firm Navigator. Dawson was instrumental in the Wildrose defections which collapsed the Official Opposition and did untold damage to democracy in Alberta. It’s pretty obvious that Albertans are governed by bankers, Big Oil and spin doctors. But as you say, as long as enough people get their slice of “the good life” they don’t worry about it. History demonstrates this is not a sustainable situation. I believe that the drop in oil prices will make it clearer to Albertas who benefits and who doesn’t under this government and they’ll do something about it in the next election. The PCs are boasting that they’ll sweep 87 of 87 seats. Not happening. Not by a long shot.
Susan, if only this information could get in the Calgary Herald as a rebuttal to the Fraser Institute op-ed articles of this past Friday and Saturday, but their editorial board isn’t really interested I’m sure. Speaking as a teacher for 37 years, I am so tired of the continuous bashing of public sector employees as overpaid, over- pensioned leechers of the public purse. Thanks for these great blogs and setting the record straight.
Thanks Mary Lynn. I can’t imagine how demoralizing it must be for teachers to put up with the abuse they get from the government. On the one hand the Tories cannot interfere with the school board’s right of autonomy in dictating whether a school will will allow students to form gay-straight alliances (it’s a club for pete’s sake). On the other hand, school boards are not allowed to negotiate teachers pay without the Education Minister’s sign off and even contracts in effect for years can be ripped to shreds by the Tories whenever it’s convenient. If that’s not the heighth of hypocrisy I don’t know what is!
Myths 2 and 3 seem contra to each other when the so called pay bump is factored in.
Agree with #4
Dave, if I’ve learned anything in the private sector it’s this: There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to setting compensation. Take lawyers for example. A lawyer with 15 years of experience in the private sector can make anywhere from $80,000 to over a million dollars a year. It all depends on whether he’s working in a large law firm, a small law firm, in-house with a large corporation with a generous stock option and bonus plan or in-house with a junior oil company with not much but the hope they’ll be bought out by Big Oil. That’s why companies hire compensation specialists like Mercers or Towers Perrin to run comparative analyses of similar jobs in similar industries in similar geographies (you’d never compare Calgary salaries to Edmonton salaries for example). The Fraser Institute simply cherry picks the data it wants. Good heavens I came across one study (not sure if it was FI) that said it had factored in differences in experience, skill etc and determined that government geologists were overpaid in comparison to private sector geologists. Then it said it got its data from Monster.com. Monster.com!!?? No self respecting private sector company would touch Monster.com with a ten foot pole let alone use it to set salaries!
I live in BC. The same situation is everywhere, I think. Why do over-paid politicians think it’s “noble” to take a pay cut or not take annual pay raises when they mess up … And we are expected to work for the same pay for years because the “economy is bad”! Well written Susan! You said it all.
Exactly Linda…only in government are people allowed to screw up, say it was that guy’s fault (in this case the Saudis who refuse to prop up oil prices), promise to work miracles by hammering the people and then ask to be re-elected. Are we nuts or what?
Such a sad situation…
Thank you Susan. Thank you for poking a tear in the fabric of greed and deception that is so thickly wraps this corporate led government. How Prentice and associates can twist their malignant facts with such deceptive flourish has my head spinning. How can we, the sleeping masses wake up and see how this unbalanced economics and unparalleled greed is pillaging the earth and bringing the world to instability. Perhaps start with large groups of workers who struggle with the limited resources such as first line workers in health care, education, early childhood services, workers who toil at minimum wages who have to dip into food banks on a regular basis.
Cla: you’ve nailed it. I think this time the “masses” will awake. They’ve suffered too much and too long. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure the WildTories (as Julie calls them) get their hats handed to them in the next election.
When Kevin Taft was running against Stelmach the issue being the lack of royalty collected in the province, Taft was winning and stood to win the election! The Liberals were 700,.000 dollars in debt and Taft through the election by introducing a non issue into it at the 11th hour.
Their debt suddenly disappeared. and Stelmach got into office. He through the Election!
On Raj Sherman’s first election for the Liberals he announced they would not be fielding any new candidates this election. After I bullied him about it he did field any number of people who could not represent themselves at a door let a lone a party
The Liberals have 2 elected members now, the rest have abandoned the fold to run for the Federal Liberals.
Like it or not we are down to a 2 party system same as the US. On one side the Conservatives who distinguished themselves as liars cheats and thieves when they were busted stealing pension funds off of the Aimco Funds and then denying it when approached by the unions. A resolve was reached of some kind after court was threatened.
On the other side we have the NDP, long standing and squeaky clean. They need industry as do all the parties. But, they are now buoyed by the fact that Norways hundreds of billions of dollars in the back was put there by socialist Government since their break with Sweden. Norway offers free university and comprehensive health care. That is socialism . Not the boots and environmental runaways the Conservatives would have you believe!
Being the highest educated population in Europe, they turn out 70% of their population in every vote. The Conservatives got a major majority with 23% of the popular vote. It is this voter apathy that is killing us!.
Cyberclark: I was out of the country during the Taft years and can’t speak to that. I became more involved in politics after I returned to Alberta and picked up the bulk of my experience “inside the tent” over the last two years. From my perspective Raj worked very hard to help the Liberal candidates win in the 2014 by-elections but we didn’t succeed. Let’s face it, Prentice hand-picked the ridings he thought the PCs could win, then he showered money and promises on the candidates (including a $2 billion school construction program and two school portables here in Calgary Elbow), no wonder they won.
Having said all that, you make a very interesting point when you say we’re evolving to a two-party system. This may be the outcome of a “first past the post” system, I’m not sure, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I hope to blog about it in the near future. In the meantime I look forward to your comments on this and will check out your link. Thanks.
Susan I have spent the past 2 years backing the Liberal Party of Albert and Raj Sheman I did a fairly good job I think. Then simultaneously Raj Sherman give notice he was leaving and the bulk of he party moved over to the Federal Liberals leaving only 2 plus Sherman in the mix.
I looked at the timing; really, too late to do too much; they did it again although in fairness to Raj inside people tell me it was personal reasons he is leaving for but its the same pattern again.
Email tp Alberta Liberals 12/5/2011
Subject: an update please.
Dr. Sherman told rank and file the Liberal Party would not run in the next election.
Since then, there has been very little exposure of the Liberals in the media.
It is my opinion the Liberals screwed away the past two elections following Mr. Taft’s ideals of staying to the “high ground” and being overly Concerned with protecting the honor of the office and prestige of the politic.
I’m told by respected people within the Liberal Caucus that the party is being run, hands on, by Mr. Taft and his wife
The way it is looking now, is that the Conservatives have very much taken over the Alberta Liberals with the insertion of Dr. Sherman. Also, it appears you are having trouble getting people to run for you now. I take that as meaning the populace doesn’t know where you are at or where you are going. This, because of a lack of straight and candid conversation.
People in Alberta are going to vote for a change this time around. With the obvious absence of the Liberal party on the scene, it seems the WRP will gain ground even though I trash them regularly .
My blog, http://albertathedetails.blogspot.com/ is doing very well mostly because of my national and international postings. I now use the blog for full articles on the news where comment only allow a very short response. I target Conservative/Republican papers and organizations. It is surprising what a bit of reason will do.
In brief; What in hell is going on? Some straight answers please otherwise, I will be supporting the NDP.
Again, no response.
I hate to be the rain on the parade but nothing is going to change. Albertans have the government they voted for. With the voting system we have and the money mind frozen population, the next election will be a PC majority again. The last 4 by-elections are the very first taste of what is coming. Prentice knows it and he does not care really. Albertans are enslaved to a cult and we all know what that is like. Until full destruction, nothing changes. I think Prentice should change the PC name to The Scientology party.
The Liberal party is in its last days, the Alberta party never reached the last days and Rachel Notley is doing well but in the end one word will do to her what it has done to all of them since 1971 – the word is socialism. Albertans get sick just spelling the word. Despite all the examples coming from social Democracies in Europe, there is no way to change the terror created by years of brain washing which continues to this day. Just read the newspapers. What I have read about socialism and social democracy here in Alberta is short of appaling and total ignorance. It is bizarre.
Socialism: Norway has had socialist Government since it’s split with Sweden. In fact it did not have its own common language until sometime after that split. Local dialects ruled and were near to not understandable between villages.
Those same socialist Governments put hundreds of billions in the bank; they are now Europe’s bankers. They provide free university education; guaranteed. They keep their money off shore to protect small industry. They all pay taxes by which the country is run. That’s socialism!
I post far and wide and have done for years teaching Albertans these facts. Unfortunately I was backing the Liberal party at the time.
Norway turns out 70% of the popular vote while Alberta elected a majority Conservative government with only 23% turning out.
Just think! If one segment (universities as an example) voted this could all change in a second.
I agree with much of what you say but I hope., perhaps against hope that it can be changed.
Southern Alberta is the Ozarks of Canada. They are borne into a society that believes there should be no borders at all. Extreme right wing is the next best thing for them.
It is going to be 6 years before we start flowing oil again! Houses and chattle are going to be lost and unemployment is going to rise to a point unimaginable just prior to this catastrophe. Unfortunately it is going to hold off until after the election.
Carlos one reason I think there’s a movement away from the PCs (and yes I could be dreaming in technicolour here) is that their staunchest supporters are starting to feel the pain. John Osler, a prominent Calgary lawyer, former head of the Alberta Cancer Foundationk and cancer survivor, shredded Prentice for delaying the Calgary Cancer Centre (CCC). The Alberta Cancer Foundation (which no doubt tapped Calgary’s corporate elite) raised $200 million for the CCC and now it’s in limbo. Prentice said oil prices dropped and he had no alternative. Osler said it’s not as if the government has NO money, just that it has LESS money and that it needs to look at its priorities. Prentice said the CCC was originally going to cost $100 million and now it’s sitting at $1.6 billion–it’s an example of “scope creep”. Osler said the CCC was NEVER going to cost $100 million (that was a renovation to the Tom Baker centre and “not a proper starting point”) and “why should cancer patients be responsible for scope creep?” Mandel’s people said the CCC would be delayed and they’re “looking at all the options”. Osler said every aspect of the CCC has been “reviewed, planned, strategized and scoped, and there is nothing left to do.”
When the movers and shakers in corporate Calgary take on the premier in the Calgary Herald something is going on.
That leads us to the point you and Cyberclark made that things are going to get really bad but not before the next election, and all of the progressive parties have significant hurdles to overcome if they hope to be elected. I agree. The Liberals need a dynamic thoughtful leader and regroup. The NDP are making headway in Edmonton and even to some degree here in Calgary, but they need to get voters past their knee-jerk bias against “socialism” and “trade unions”. The Alberta Party is, as one wit put it, the “Elbow Party”. They have a lot of work to do to make an impact anywhere. The Greens are great but have a very small base. Bottom line: the PCs will sweep into power. I’m not sure how much damage the WR will do to them at this point. The rest of the progressives should cooperate during the election to get as many progressive candidates in the Legislature as possible. It’s going to be a really hard slog, but hey, that’s what we’re here for, right?
Susan I do not know if things are going to get a lot worse or not because the little I know about oil sands tells me that they can very well make it at $40 a barrel. They will lay off a few thousand and retract their investments and once again we will go back to a more balanced economy. Edmonton was very resilient after the last one and to be honest we had a lot less pressure in the Health Care system as well as other public services which in the end felt like being normal. This out of this world development is totally unrealistic and only serves those that are making the billions leaving the rest of us with a much more expensive cost of living and trying to make it when salary increases are only noticeable in Fort McMurray or for the CEOS. I am sorry for those who got sucked by the boom and spit like puppets but this is an unsustainable situation for our province. We all know this. I too was caught in a previous bust and had to leave the country for a year to survive and so I fully realize the horrible costs of this idiotic way of developing our economy.
My post was more on the political side than financial. I was here in 1983 when the crisis was way worse than the one in 2008 and this one. The PCs came back and won it regardless. I have been in Alberta long enough to understand that the problem is nothing but a dogmatic position that has been profoundly hammered to the point of no return. I truly believe that the situation is quite serious and not changeable unless there is a collapse of the existing structure. This is not unique to Alberta but it is certainly a psychological situation that to me is irreversible. Why? Because we have a convergence of three main events that make it impossible to reverse it. First the voting system is the worst possible in terms of allowing the creation of new parties and the possible entry into the Legislature. Times are very different and repeating what Peter Lougheed did in 1971 is no longer possible. Second we have a very undemocratic system controlled by big money and big corporations and thirdly we have a population extremely frustrated and uninterested in a system that they know is meaningless and aware that changing it within the existent context is basically impossible. What we are witnessing in Greece for example, would never happen here because without the proportional representation the Syriza party would never have made it. Even having accomplished what they did, they very well know that the most difficult part is yet to come, and that is being able to withstand the pressures of the big banks and Institutions that are not longer interested in the European community but are now on the road to the third conquest of Europe by Germany and the European and now globalized elites. In my opinion that was the purpose from day one of this crazy expansion of the EU and Germany has now been able to get what they wanted without a war. At least for now. Knowing a bit of Europe I would not in any way discount the idea that everything is possible when humans are involved. Furthermore the Ukrainian situation is way worse than reported here and we have now a Europe in a crisis impossible to imagine before 2008.
Anyway going back to what we are discussing, Prentice can call an election anytime he wishes even if the situation gets worse because the PCs will never lose the election. The Liberal Party is done at least for a while even in the extremely able hands of David Swann. The NDP will never be able to go past the socialist barrier even when Albertans are told that it is in the socialist/social democratic world that things are running well for their people. The Alberta party is suffering from the lack of Proportional Representation and soon, without a merger, it will be very difficult to sustain its own existence.
We do not have much time left but without a great coalition of the Progressive parties and an enormous push forward or the implementation of Proportional Representation, we are basically dead in the water and forced to witness the demise of a great province.
I’m sure you will find this election different. We are now down to a 2 party system so there is no splitting of votes because of oil cash poured in. The general public is now aware that the Conservatives have pumped trillions (yes! trillions!) of dollars into oil profits that should have been in the Alberta coffers. And these same people are looking at dark futures; in fear of loosing their homes and chattel. And, they know the Conservatives robbed them of over 700 billion out of the Heritage trust fund.
There is now a better understanding out there that it was their lack of voting, not the vote that put the conservatives in power and allowed them to get away with all of this stuff.
I have posted to more than 100 items the Norway History and will do so here so you can cut and paste it and send it onto your friends.
When Norway split from Sweden it did not even have its own common language! Dialects changed from village to village which, made it impossible for the Germans to settle spies in place.
From their first election forward they have voted for socialist Governments. These Governments guarantee citizens a university education free! They now have the highest educated population in Europe! This same population turns out 70% of the vote for every vote! They keep their Governments honest.
Norway keeps its hundreds of billions of dollars off shore where they act as Europe’s bankers. Small business prospers because of economies to scale you hear about usually when Conservatives are making excuses. A hamburger will cost you 50.00 and the person who serves you makes 100,000.00 a year! McDonalds and dozens of other small companies pull it all together to make a profit.
Alberta got a majority Government with only 23% of the popular vote and people are starting to understand that socialism is not the marching boots the Conservatives have betrayed them as!
Alberta has dummed down our school system to a point we are graduating grade 10 as grade 12 graduates. Watching the news tonight I see a new, no accountability project oriented test class going into play. They took advise they could not grow “big business” because they could not graduate sufficient degrees. So, rather than leave choices to Albertan’s they forced the kids into trade school option with the glint of big bucks ruling their futures. They encouraged this while advertising all over the world for the Degrees needed for business. They have relegated our citizens to second or third class.
The check in the system if you can call it that is the trade schools who follow the oil companies demands on trades. They set the entrance high on trades that are not presently in demand and set the same entrance mark low if they need the bodies. University funding is at 1986 levels driving tuition up beyond the reach of most Albertans if they had the education to try.
Your two party choice is the Conservatives or the NDP. The Liberals are defunct.
I will be supporting the NDP.
Just to pick up on a point raised by Carlos about the break even point for oilsand producers, yesterday’s Daily Oil Bulletin quoted an analyst with FirstEnergy Capital Corp as saying the oilsand mining companies won’t shut down in the near-term because their costs are fixed and “some revenue is better than no revenue”; but they would consider shutting down if they believed the long-term price of oil was going to be below their “cost threshold” which he suggests is the cost of future operating losses versus the cost of firing people and the cost of funding abandonment and reclamation activities.
He said the cost threshold for Syncrude and Suncor appears to be about $68 per bbl and $70 per bbl. He pegged the cost threshold for SAGD projects at $43 to $55 per bbl. Oil prices will rebound, the big question is how high will they go and will they stay there. 2015 is going to be a tough year for industry and they’re going to be leaning hard on the PC government for help. And notwithstanding how much Prentice preaches his support for the “free market”, history has shown the PCs are big proponents of corporate welfare.
Cyberclark may be right. This next election will allow all political parties to crystalize their messages which in my mind boils down to a choice between a party that supports business at all costs versus a party that support people. So far the NDP has been the clearest in their support for “the people”.
Game changer here today Merkel of Germany seems to be leading the support for arms supplies (usually comes with the people to run them) Germany holds a fair amount of military might.But, will she commit? Seems to me Germany has a non aggression law in place).
But. even if we were all hugs and kisses with Putin I don’t think China would let him out the sweetheart deal they set down. Russia is hurting terribly but still support Putin on the Crimea! Their Rubel is down to less than half. China is heading for a recession even with the cheap fuel.
We have a dangerous future ahead of us.
Susan, a very good post. I work at the University of Alberta and remember the Klein cuts in the early ’90s that hit everyone in education, nursing, and public service. What concerns me about the potential of wage cuts to the public sector employees is that it doesn’t apply equally to the entire province, but just to a part of the population. This is why a (gasp) sales tax would be a fairer way to deal with the financial difficulties. It’s not ideal, but it touches everyone in the same way. Another way out of this would be to borrow money in the short term while oil is low, then pay it back when oil goes up (which it always does).
Picking up on your U of A experience. It was either the Stelmach Election or one of Klein’s last ones. Voting was to have taken place at the main fourier at the U of A. Instead it was quietly moved to the back of the university near the residences and students didn’t know where to find it. Yet, statistically cutting universities is a safe thing to do because universities don’t vote!
Keltie I ran into two senior partners at a major law firm here in town. They said that the downturn was actually not a bad thing because it would force “the kids” to realize that everything doesn’t come to them on a silver platter. Sadly they had no comprehension of the impact of pay cuts on the other 99% of the population who are already scrambling to cover the mortgage, car payments and feeding and clothing their children.
The other thing everyone seems to have lost sight of is that “opening up” a collective agreement is breaking a contract. How come it’s OK to break a contract signed with the unions but illegal to break a contract signed with anyone else?
Keltie, EQUAL may not be EQUITABLE [read FAIR]. The same tax on necessities of life [food, health care goods and services, education, utilities, transportation, housing, clothing] may be 1% of income A – but 10% of income B.
Human rights and civil rights experience has long demonstrated that treating folks equally [i.e. in the same way] does not necessarily provide them with the same opportunity or access – or fairness.
Cyberclark, it was the Stelmach election I am thinking of…Not just the U of A poling station was moved, all non PC supportive stations were changed across Edmonton ON election day with no warning. We got our voting card in the mailbox the day before verifying our station. You can’t tell me that so many stations being changed on election day were not known of before. People were pi**ed and the PC’s knew it. That is dirty politics to say the least. The way Prentice is showing his true colors. I can see the same stunt being pulled this coming election.
The fact that Prentice is preparing for a snap election instead of giving the opposition parties a chance to regroup confirms Jackie’s concern (and mine) that we can expect to see more stunts like the one she described. Shameful given the PCs hold the majority of the seats.
When is the next election? Soon I hope.
belleek56: The Tories passed a law setting the next election in the spring of 2016, but it looks like Prentice will break this law by calling the election in the spring of this year. He hasn’t announced the date yet, but people are betting it will be toward the end of April after he’s presented the 9% cut budget. It’s going to interesting to see how he positions his own government’s failure to change the revenue structure so we don’t get clobbered every time the Saudis lower oil prices. Let’s face it, you can’t cut yourself to prosperity. Ralph Klein did that and we still haven’t recovered.
Oh and welcome to the Soapbox!