Nanton News: Stier & Everett weigh in on provincial budget

While the views of local MLA Pat Stier and Nanton Mayor Rick Everett on last week’s provincial budget were not entirely the same, they did agreed that the change needed in Alberta is going to take time.

“I think it is historically one of the worst times I have seen in Alberta,” said Stier, MLA for the Livingstone-Macleod riding. “We are in a recession and right now we need relationships with oil — instead we have a government that seems to be working against that.”

The Wildrose MLA has worked in the oil sector for 20 years and has seen cycles, but this is the biggest bust he has seen in some time.

“Our major industry is oil and gas and instead of supporting it and allowing access in to those markets, we have a government instead, that is concentrating on other things and saying things that do not promote us.”

Stier also expressed his concerns with the proposed budget showing Alberta borrowing billions of dollars.

“Alberta is in debt right now,” Stier said. “The last thing you want to do when you are in debt is borrow more money — instead they want to put us further in to that debt — it is a worst-case solution for a terrible scenario.”

As for the items in the proposed budget that Stier felt he could work with, he said that the funding for education and support for front-line workers is a positive.

“Throughout all of our campaigns and in all of our policies we have supported front-line workers and we strive to protect them,” Stier explained. “We also support the education projects despite what the opposition claims. We are never against spending carefully on those services. We believe that things are going to take a while but we can come back and we can do that in a reasonable and conservative way.”

The budget estimate debate will take place during the next few weeks, Stier said. “

We will be monitoring that and we will do everything we can to salvage a tough situation.”

Everett was slightly more lenient when it came to the NDP government’s budget.

“I am still looking through the budget and reviewing it, but so far the fact they delivered tax breaks on small businesses is great,” Everett stated. “Small business during a time of uncertainty in the economy becomes a major asset.”

Mayor Everett also expressed fewer problems with the proposed budget, but did have some concerns.

“The only problems I have right now are that as the province is in tough times we see a government increasing tax rates — this has impacts on families.” Everett said. “Not only have we seen a change of government at the federal level but at the provincial level as well and when both decide to change tax rates it has a large impact on people.”

Where the mayor and Stier agreed was that change was going to take time.

“I am looking forward to see how the government works,” Everett said. “They have lived up to promises that they have made to us and I am willing to give them a chance. The worst thing about change is people are impatient with it. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Everett said there are similarities between the new Alberta government and Nanton’s current council.

“We are in a similar scenario with the council for Nanton, five out of seven members that were elected to be a part of council are new,” Everett said. “We were not able to make change happen right away, it took two years — it takes time. We need to give the government and the people involved time and see if they can put action to their words because so far, in my opinion, they have.”

Mayor Everett had plenty of good things to say about the new NDP government.

“Again, the current government maintained promises that they had made to us and I am very happy with that,” Everett said. “Those promises include the waste water treatment plant issues and they came through in record time.

“I am happy with the new cancer centre but I do wish it was happening faster. There are lots of people that are forced to travel a lot to get the treatment they need. Driving all over Alberta becomes difficult, and the cancer centre will ensure they can get treatment in one spot.”