It is interesting that in these tough budgetary economic times Albertans are being told to expect significant cuts in healthcare, education, and a long list of other government services. Yet at the same time, Albertans are being told that they will need to pay for an estimated $14 billion in electricity transmission upgrades that may not be needed. If government projected costs are consistent with past estimates, the public can expect to pay in excess of $22 billion dollars for transmission up-grades, after Bill-50 is passed this October.
Ask a healthcare official or the school board member what they need for resources, and they can produce a documented prioritized list with facts and figures to accommodate and justify a request for additional funds in an effort to maintain basic services. Ask Alberta Energy to produce a prioritized list with facts and figures to prove what is needed for the public, and they cannot produce any such documentation. Alberta Energy admits they have never done a cost/benefit analysis to prove what is in the public’s interest.
Bill-50, when passed, guarantees that Alberta Energy will not have to justify a need for spending taxpayer’s money. Alberta Energy is quick to point out that Albertans will not pay for this with a tax increase; they say Albertans will pay for these up-grades with an electricity rate increase.
A tax increase by any other name is still a tax increase. Bill-50 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; it eliminates the regulatory process once required to justify these kinds of expenditures. There is no evidence that even one job will be created by the passage of Bill-50. However, there are a number of electricity industry experts who are warning Albertans that jobs may be lost due to the passage of Bill-50. Bill-50 is: the largest tax increase proposed in over 50 years, and may just be the largest ever proposed in the history of Alberta.
One can only wonder how much of our healthcare services affecting the elderly and our school programs affecting our children would improve if even a portion of these funds were diverted to accommodate their needs. Such a diversion would elevate the needs of our elderly and children above that of industry. Unfortunately, such a diversion would be called a tax increase and Mr. Stelmach says a tax increase is unacceptable.
Lavesta Area Group
Joe Anglin is a political activist in Alberta