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Planks in the platforms

Where the major parties stand on 11 key policy issues

Even before the writ was dropped on March 19, political parties in Alberta had been promising Albertans everything from expanding language and technology education to cutting corporate taxes to subsidized child care. We’ve seen key promises change over the course of the 28-day campaign period, and the Alberta Party only finished publishing its policy statements on April 9, a mere week before the April 16 election.

Three parties are running a full slate of candidates in 2019: the Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP), the United Conservative Party (UCP), and the Alberta Party. In this blog we compare where these three parties stand on 11 important policy issues. These comparisons are based on each party’s published platform or policy statements. We've largely let each party speak for themselves, but have included some commentary or clarifications in square brackets throughout the blog and added hyperlinks for additional reading.

While we've summarized the major pledges of the the leading three parties in Alberta, we encourage you to read the full platforms of the Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP), United Conservative Party (UCP), and Alberta Party for yourself, along with the pledges made by the Alberta Liberals, Green Party, Freedom Conservative Party, and Alberta Independence Party

Indigenous relations

All parties express enthusiasm for working with Indigenous groups which want involvement in pipeline and resource development, but none of the parties mention Indigenous groups that oppose pipeline expansion. Of the three parties’ election platforms, only the Alberta Party specifically mentions the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) or the implementation of the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Negotiate renewed fiscal relationships between the Government of Alberta and First Nations and Métis peoples.
  • Work to connect investors with Indigenous groups seeking to purchase equity partnerships in pipeline projects.
  • Accelerate the schedule to extend drinking water infrastructure to reserves.
  • Increasing financial support to Native Friendship Centres so they can expand their work supporting Indigenous Albertans off-reserve.
Alberta Party
  • Work with Indigenous communities to fulfill and realize the intent of UNDRIP.
  • Address issues and the 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in a mutually agreed upon process with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.
  • Apply Jordan’s Principle to education.
  • Strengthen Indigenous languages and cultures within communities in a mutually agreed upon process.
  • Improve First Nations, Métis and Inuit access to health care and senior care in ways that are holistic and culturally appropriate.
  • Transition jurisdiction of Children and Family Services from the province to local Indigenous authorities.
    Find solutions to Indigenous housing and community infrastructure challenges.
  • Reduce barriers to business, facilitate economic growth, explore equity ownership in projects/pipelines and revenue sharing for Indigenous communities.
  • Honour and respect traditional hunting, fishing, and harvesting rights; as a Section 35 right all Indigenous peoples will be treated equally.
United Conservative Party
  • Consult with First Nations on Crown land sales.
  • “Work with First Nations, other Indigenous communities, and the disability community to increase access to supports for Indigenous families who have children with disabilities.”
  • “Support legal action for pro-resource groups in Indigenous communities with a $10 million fund.” [This fund is directed at helping pro-resource Indigenous communities sue the federal government for lack of proper consultation.]
  • “Add economic development rights to the preamble of the Alberta Aboriginal Consultation policy to explicitly consider support from Indigenous communities for projects that affect them.”
  • “Facilitate First Nations financial participation in major resource projects.”
  • Support Indigenous communities “by establishing a continuum of addiction and mental health services, ensuring service provision is not disrupted by jurisdictional disputes, and increasing access to services to manage the impact of Indian Residential Schools on mental health.”

Related Parkland Institute content

Indigenous Gendered Experiences of Work in an Oil-Dependent, Rural Alberta Community (Report)
How gender and race shape experiences of work in Alberta’s oil industry (Blog)
Ten things to know about Indigenous people and resource extraction in Alberta (Blog)
Letter of concern on the land rights and water rights of Bigstone Cree Nation (Blog)
As Long the Rivers Flow: Athabasca River Knowledge, Use and Change (Report)

Oil and gas regulations, transportation, and value-added processing

All three parties we compared focus heavily on the oil and gas sector and related industries. Unsurprisingly, all three parties also advocate for expanding pipeline capacity. The NDP and Alberta Party both want to incentivize further expansion of the petrochemical industry. The NDP also promises to increase crude-by-rail capacity and to speed up orphan well remediation. The UCP pledges to "streamline the process" for well abandonment and make changes to the liability management framework in the province and promises to reverse the NDP's plan to lease rail cars to expand crude-by-rail capacity.

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Follow through on the crude-by-rail plan.
  • Implement clear timelines for when companies need to clean up their abandoned oil and gas wells, and require them to justify any delays in reclaiming sites.
  • Implement new corporate health measures on asset sales to prevent liability dumping.
  • Complete the High and Heavy Load corridor network for moving large industrial equipment around the province.
  • Review transportation regulations related to oil well drilling, consider re-classifying rigs as off-road vehicles, create an annual provincial road permit, and push the federal government to harmonize rig classification standards to improve cross-border operations.
  • Fight Bill C-48 and call for significant amendments to Bill C-69.
  • Advocate for Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX), and other additional pipeline capacity.
  • Invest in two new petrochemical facilities.
  • Continue to manage oil and gas curtailment to prevent the price differential from artificially rising.
  • Advocate for greater pipeline capacity to gain access to markets overseas and reduce reliance on the United States.
  • Attract $75 billion in new investment and 70,000 new oil and gas jobs through a major expansion of refining, upgrading and petrochemical production capacity.
  • Reform and streamline regulatory processes for oil and gas projects without undermining environmental and safety standards. These reforms include:
    • Establishing the one-stop online platform for environmental and safety applications by the end of 2020.
    • Convening an Alberta Regulatory Competitive Task Force, led by the Department of Industry, with industry and government representatives.
  • Meet the goal of achieving a phase out of coal by 2030.
Alberta Party
  • Expedite approvals for the CanaPux [solid bitumen pucks] pilot facility and contribute financial support for one-third of the pilot ($16.7 million).
  • Increase the Alberta Innovates budget by 30% to $375 million by 2020–22, and direct the additional funds to research into new uses for Albertan resources.
  • Support construction of Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Sturgeon Refinery.
  • Expedite the review of necessary approvals and expand the Bitumen Royalty-In-Kind (BRIK) program.
  • Establish a gas royalty-in-kind program that takes a similar approach to the BRIK program.
  • Expand the petrochemical diversification program to a 10-year program, instead of year-to-year.
  • Shift the petrochemical diversification program to a subsidy instead of a royalty credit.
  • Secure right-of-way, and approvals for an Alberta-to-Alaska rail and pipeline corridor starting in Fort McMurray. This project would be Indigenous-led, government supported ($10 million to convene a consortium, and for stakeholder consultations), and the capital costs would come from the private sector.
United Conservative Party
  • "Reverse the NDP plan to spend $3.7 billion leasing rail cars."
  • Appoint a new board of directors to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) "that will focus on improving approval times and cutting red tape" with the aim of having " the fastest approvals in North America, reducing AER timelines by at least 50%."
  • “Streamline and expedite the AER's review process.”
  • Streamline the oil and gas well abandonment process and "work jointly with the AER and industry to overhaul the liability management framework in Alberta.”
  • Speed up the regulatory approval of new natural gas production sites.
  • Spend $20 million of the funds from the industrial carbon tax on an energy “war room” to propagate “the truth” about Alberta’s oil sands industry.
  • "Pursue every possible pipeline project,” including TMX, Keystone XL, Line 3, Energy East, and Northern Gateway.
  • File a constitutional challenge should Bill C-69 become federal law.
  • “Use the 'Turn off the Taps' legislation should provinces, including British Columbia, continue to obstruct the construction of pipelines.”
  • Hold a provincial referendum on equalization “if substantial progress is not made on construction of a coastal pipeline, and if Trudeau’s Bill C-69 is not repealed.”
  • “End any and all provincial government funding for groups involved in the 'Tarsands' campaign.”
  • “Launch a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act into the foreign sources of funds behind the anti-Alberta energy campaign. The inquiry will have the power to compel witness testimony and have a $2.5 million budget.”
  • “Fire Ed Whittingham from his position at the Alberta Energy Regulator.”

Related Parkland Institute content

False advertising by the Alberta government and oil lobby (Blog)
Seven questions about the oil production cut (Blog)
Boom, Bust, and Consolidation: Corporate Restructuring in the Alberta Oil Sands (Report)
Selling off oil fast as we can isn’t an energy plan (Opinion)
Who owns and benefits from Canada’s fossil-fuel sector? (Opinion)
The value of Alberta’s value-added strategy (Blog)
Let’s share actual facts about the Trans Mountain pipeline (Blog)
Will the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tidewater Access Boost Prices and Save Canada’s Oil Industry? (Report)
Fifty years of Alberta’s oil sands (Blog)

Climate change and the environment

All three parties propose plans to address climate change and address other environmental issues. The NDP focuses on investment in renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through continuation of the Climate Leadership Plan and promises to partner with, and fund, conservation groups, land trusts, and watershed councils. The Alberta Party plans to eliminate the carbon tax for individuals, small businesses (offering them the option to opt-in to the industrial carbon tax in order to generate carbon credits), municipalities, and non-profits. The UCP will eliminate the carbon tax altogether, and its platform also focuses on renewables, conservation through a credit system, and increased rights for private landowners.

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the Climate Leadership Plan.
  • Provide ongoing support for GreenSTEM.
  • Attract $10 billion in private investment and 7,000 jobs by 2030 in the renewable energy sector.
  • Add more renewable power so the electricity system is 30% renewable by 2030.
  • Reduce methane emissions by 45% by 2025.
  • Cap oil sands carbon emissions, and work with industry to build on innovations that decrease emissions.
  • Build flood protection on the Bow River and complete the Springbank dam.
  • Tackle the pine beetle infestation.
  • Develop a Clean Lakes Strategy with goals to reduce blue-green algae blooms, and protect valuable shorelines.
  • Partner with outdoor recreation groups to improve recreation infrastructure like trails, staging areas, and docks.
  • Multi-year, stable funding for watershed councils and land trust organizations.
  • Reduce barriers to creating land trusts to support voluntary land conservation across Alberta.
Alberta Party
  • Scrap the consumer and small business carbon tax on fuel for vehicles and heating.
  • Exempt non-profits and municipalities from a consumer carbon tax.
  • Allow small business emitters to opt-in to the industrial carbon tax system to generate carbon credits that they could then sell to large industrial emitters.
  • Maintain a carbon tax for large industrial emitters. [Details are sparse on the Alberta Party plan, but it says that revenues from the industrial carbon tax “would continue to flow to Energy Efficiency Alberta.”]
  • “The Alberta Party’s carbon tax would apply to aviation fuel, locomotive fuel, fuel used in resource extraction, and large scale industrial emissions.”
  • “Continue the current process for building the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir project without any changes or delays to the current trajectory.”
  • Allow smaller farms to buy marked fuel [marked fuel is gasoline and diesel that is partially exempt from tax], which it says would remove the “carbon tax on fuel for most rural Albertans.”
  • Fund technology development and make changes to the building code to encourage the use of more wood in buildings and to reduce the use of cement and steel.
  • Create the Alberta Forestry Technology and Research Institute as a subsidiary of Alberta Innovates.
  • Work with industry to secure long-term timber rights agreements.
  • Ensure some of the renewable energy auctions are for biomass power projects.
United Conservative Party
  • “Ensure that in the future, all major environmental protection proposals will be subject to mandatory social-economic impact assessments to allow the government to strike the appropriate balance between economic growth and environmental protection.”
  • Eliminate the consumer carbon tax on transportation and home heating fuels.
  • Ensure any future provincial consumer carbon tax is subject to the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act, which currently requires any provincial sales tax to be voted on in a referendum.
  • Publish an impact assessment of the consumer carbon tax and Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.
  • Challenge the constitutionality of the federal consumer carbon tax by launching a judicial reference to the Court of Appeal.
  • Revert back to an industrial carbon tax that is similar to the one passed by the Progressive Conservatives in 2007.
  • Reduce the carbon tax paid by large industrial emitters by 33%, from $30/tonne to $20/tonne.
  • Require coal-fired electricity plants to meet a “good-as-best-gas” performance standard or the coal plants will have to be phased out. [Federal regulations require all coal-fired electricity units to be phased out by December 31, 2029.]
  • Increase government spending on research on carbon capture and storage technology.
  • End subsidies for renewable energy development. The UCP estimates a market-based approach to renewable energy development will add 1,566 megawatts of renewable energy by 2030. [In 2016, the NDP government set a target of adding 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2030.]
  • Ask the Auditor General of Alberta to do a special duty audit of 2016–17 changes to the power purchase agreements held through the Balancing Pool.
  • Consult on whether Alberta should revert back to an energy-only market for electricity or if the province should continue with plans to introduce a capacity market. [Mmoving to a capacity market was recommended by the Alberta Electric System Operator.]
  • Maintain funding for LRT extensions in Calgary and Edmonton. [It is unclear how a UCP government would pay for the LRT extensions, given it plans to cancel the consumer carbon tax, which helps pay for such infrastructure.]
  • Increase funding to the Alberta Land Trust Grant by $5 million.
  • “Apply a mandatory $30 trail permit to Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV) and camping trailers to pay for restoring and creating OHV trails and preventing damage in Alberta’s great outdoors, and to hire additional enforcement officers.”
  • “Implement a balanced back country land use plan to ensure all Albertans can enjoy public lands and appreciate the wilderness” and “review Alberta Environment and Parks legislation.”
  • “Improve data collection on environmental outcomes relating to parks and public lands.”
  • “Encourage and increase the use of development credits and conservation offsets in provincial development policy.”
  • “Create statutory tort action for adversely affected downstream private landowners, so they can more easily deal with illegal drainage of wetlands.”
  • “Allocate $10 million over two years to create the Big Island Provincial Park along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in Southwest Edmonton.”
  • Ensure that forestry corporations have long-term access to trees to cut down. If the federal government or court orders reduce forestry corporations’ access to trees to cut down, a UCP government will ensure forestry corporations have access to an equal or larger area to cut down trees in the same region.
  • Increase funding going to fight against the mountain pine beetle.
  • Review the Alberta Caribou Draft Plan.
  • Complete Alberta’s land-use consultations and planning before making any new decisions on habitat protection.

Related Parkland Institute content

Ask candidates how to clean up Alberta’s orphaned wells (Opinion)
Canada’s Energy Outlook: Current Realities and Implications for a Carbon-constrained Future (Report)
What the Paris Agreement Means for Alberta’s Oil Sands Majors (Report)
Five things to know about Alberta’s oil sands emissions cap (Blog)
Ten things to know about carbon pricing in Alberta (Blog)

Employment laws, labour laws, and the minimum wage

Neither the NDP nor Alberta Party focus on labour and employment laws in their respective platforms. During its term in government the NDP made significant changes to labour legislation, including increasing the provincial minimum wage to $15 and updating employment standards regulations. The NDP platform does briefly mention employment and labour laws, but does not promise any specific changes. The Alberta Party does not speak directly to employment and labour laws in its policy statements. The UCP platform, however, puts forward several proposals that would roll back a number of the NDP government’s recent changes.

Alberta New Democratic Party

The platform pledges to "ensure employment and labour laws are modern, up-to-date and fair for employers and workers in all sectors."

Alberta Party

The Alberta Party does not refer directly to employment laws, labour laws, or minimum wage in its position statements.

United Conservative Party
  • Keep the general minimum wage at $15 an hour, but introduce a $13 an hour minimum wage for workers under 18 years old.
  • Appoint an expert panel to analyze the labour market impact of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and to assess if liquor servers should make a minimum wage lower than $15 an hour.
  • “Return to a regular/irregular workday distinction for calculating holiday pay.”
  • “Return to a holiday pay qualifying period of 30 work days in the 12 months preceding a general holiday.”
  • Banked overtime hours can be taken off at straight time, but payout for overtime would be time-and-a-half.
  • Eliminate card check for union certification and “restore mandatory secret ballot for union certification votes.”
  • Change the rules on how unions can fund political causes so that union members have to opt-in to fund such activities.
  • Allow public sector employers to hire replacement workers when there is a strike or lockout of public sector workers.
  • “Require the Labour Relations Board to provide legal support to all union workers in order to better understand and exercise their rights.”
  • “Strengthen new provisions in the Labour Relations Code that have reduced the duplication of employment claims in multiple forums (such as labour relations, employment standards, arbitration, and privacy).”

Related Parkland Institute content

UCP platform will drive down wages (Blog)
Is Alberta ‘closed for business’ because of the $15 minimum wage? (Blog)
Safer by Design: How Alberta Can Improve Workplace Safety (Report)
Health and safety review is long overdue (Blog)
‘Not a cutting-edge, lead-the-country reform’: An overview of the changes proposed in Bill 17 (Blog)
Proposed child labour laws are naïve and dangerous (Blog)
Unemployment in Alberta: What past recessions indicate about the future (Blog)
Illegal and Injurious: How Alberta Has Failed Teen Workers (Report)

Taxation

While the NDP does not make specific statements about tax rates, the Alberta Party and UCP both provide detailed proposals for changes to existing provincial tax rates. Both the UCP and Alberta Party plan to decrease the corporate tax rate: the UCP from 12% to 8% over four years, and the Alberta Party from 12% to 10% over four years.

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Continue to invest in agriculture, food processing, and interactive media production through tax credits, innovation grants, and strategic investment programs.
  • Work with professional artists to address precarious and unpredictable work by exploring options to smooth out artistic income, for example, through income averaging, income annuities or refundable tax credits.
Alberta Party
  • Reduce the general corporate tax rate from 12% to 10% over four years.
  • Double the Alberta Small Business Deduction to $1,000,000. Maintain the small business tax rate at 2%.
  • Increase tax credits for film/television production.
  • Any corporation that relocates its corporate head office from BC to Alberta will get a three-year tax holiday. Corporations relocating head offices from other jurisdictions will get a two-year tax holiday.
  • Adjust the capital cost allowance to 100% for all new investment.
  • Enable investors to accelerate the depreciation of capital investments at 100% on an immediate basis.
  • Establish a "Business Certainty Guarantee" to assure businesses that the cost of doing business in Alberta will stay the same or go down during an Alberta Party government’s four-year term.
  • Legislative and policy decisions will include a cost-of-business analysis covering direct and indirect costs/benefits. Business costs will need to stay the same or go down as a result of policy and legislative changes.
United Conservative Party
  • Lower the corporate income tax from 12% to 8% over four years.
  • Maintain the small business tax rate at 2%.

Related Parkland Institute content

Path to balance or road to perdition? (Blog)
The Alberta Disadvantage: Gender, Taxation, and Income Inequality (Report)
Cuts and privatization aren’t the answer for Alberta (Opinion)
Is it time for an Alberta tax commission? (Opinion)
Detaxation got us into this mess, can Alberta’s new government get us out? (Blog)
Hard Math, Harder Choices: Alberta’s Budget Reality (Report)
Looking in the Mirror: Provincial Comparisons of Public Spending (Fact Sheet)

Health care

All three parties put forward relatively conservative health care platforms, and all propose finding “efficiencies” in administration and management. The UCP says it would maintain health care funding, but without increases to account for population growth or inflation. The NDP platform suggests the party will increase health care funding to match population growth, but not all of inflation.

All three parties also forward initiatives to address the opioid crisis. The NDP plans to launch a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers in order to recoup some of the costs of addressing the crisis, and would also expand access to addictions treatment. The Alberta Party would declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, and increase funding to address it in a number of ways. The UCP would expand eligibility for faith-based addictions treatment models, expand eligibility for home care to include those with addictions and mental health concerns, increase the number of drug treatment courts, and increase access to mental health services for people involved in the legal system. The UCP also proposes reassessing the locations of supervised consumption sites.

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Fund health care at a rate reflecting population growth [but not all of inflation], contain administrative and managerial costs.
  • Reduce wait times in ER, and for cataract, heart, and cancer surgeries.
  • Complete and ensure operating funding for the Calgary Cancer Centre, Edmonton South Hospital, and Red Deer Hospital.
  • Implement new emergency room procedures to get ambulances back on the street faster.
  • Build an additional 2,000 long term care and dementia beds.
  • Strengthen regulations governing private clinics to prevent double-dipping, queue jumping, and privatization experiments.
  • Pilot two storefront mental health clinics in Edmonton and Calgary to provide immediate and accessible mental health care for people in mental health crisis. Implement the recommendations from the Valuing Mental Health report to strengthen Alberta’s mental health care system.
  • Launch a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers to recoup the costs of tackling the opioid crisis. Expand access to addictions treatment so that fewer Albertans are at risk of overdose.
  • Expand access to reproductive health services for women in smaller centres and rural areas.
  • Develop online health tools for remote access to health professionals for routine medical services like prescription refills and referrals.
Alberta Party
  • Pay for children’s annual dental check-up up to the age of 12. [The cost is estimated at $48 million per year.]
  • Allocate $30 million to support municipalities (over 10,000 people) to fluoridate water.
  • Eliminate Alberta Health Services (AHS) management positions that remain vacant for longer than one year.
  • Create a “wellness strategy” focusing on mental health, long-term care, and chronic conditions like dementia.
  • Allow trained and licensed healthcare professionals, such as EMS and nurse practitioners, more discretion in directing medical care.
  • Reform EMS dispatch and practices so that paramedics are able to spend more time in communities, and less time in the hospital.
  • Review and eliminate duplication and redundancies between AHS and Alberta Health.
  • Empower front-line health care professionals to make changes that enhance service delivery, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs.
  • Review and identify real estate owned by AHS that is underutilized, and divest properties where there is no plan to use them again.
  • Create more long-term care beds, more options for rehabilitation, and more flexibility to receive treatment at home.
  • Declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, and increase funding to respond to the crisis $45 million to $68 million.
  • Maintain and fund existing Supervised Consumption Sites, and take a public health, rather than enforcement focused approach to opioid use.
  • Provide community-based mental health supports, and fund new, dedicated mental health treatment beds.
  • Expand access to, and fully fund take-home Naloxone kits.
  • Endorse evidence-based, standardized approaches for drug treatment court (DTC) programs in Alberta.
  • Explore options for diverting individuals with substance use issues out of the legal system, including through Indigenous-led initiatives.
United Conservative Party
  • Maintain health spending at the current amount. [The UCP would not increase public health care spending to keep up with inflation and population growth.]
  • Increase the use of private health clinics in Alberta, including for government-insured surgeries.
  • Privatize hospital laundry services.
  • Cancel the planned Edmonton medical “superlab” and keep medical lab services in the private sector.
  • Launch an Opioid Response Strategy.
  • Ensure the eligibility of faith-based models as part of the Opioid Response Strategy.
  • Increase the addiction and mental health services offered by primary care centres.
  • Expand home care so it is available for people who identify as having addiction and mental health concerns.
  • Increase the number of Drug Treatment Courts and develop “mental health court models.”
  • Increase access to mental health services for people in contact with the criminal justice system.
  • Do an impact assessment of supervised drug consumption sites, and consult on whether the current location of supervised drug consumption sites is “optimal” or if better locations can be found.
  • In response to the 2016 legalization of assisted suicide, a UCP government will “establish and implement palliative care education, training, and standards for health professionals.”
  • Do an administrative performance review of AHS.
  • Increase the budget of the Health Quality Council of Alberta by $1 million per year.
  • Expand the scope of practice of nurse practitioners, opticians, and paramedics.
  • “Lift the cap on midwifery services.”
  • “Review the Connect Care contract and My Health Care Records to reduce potential duplication of services.”
  • Combine Alberta health care cards with driver’s license or provincial photo identification cards.
  • “Support Albertans with disabilities to stay in their homes by reducing wait times and expanding access for Self-Managed Care and increasing funds available under the Residential Access Modification Program.”

Related Parkland Institute content

Fact-checking Jason Kenney’s wait-list strategy (Blog)
Alberta in Context: Health Care Under NDP Governments (Report)
Blurred Lines: Private Membership Clinics and Public Health Care (Report)
The state of health care in Alberta (Blog)
Fertility services: At the boundary of public and private health care (Blog)
Blurring the line between public and private health care (Blog)
The Day case: 'Freedom of choice,' but only for some (Blog)

Education (K-12 & post-secondary)

The NDP promises to fund enrollment growth, while the UCP indicates it will maintain current funding levels without increases for enrollment growth or inflation. The NDP also commits to building 70 new schools, building playgrounds, and creating new language programs. Both the Alberta Party and the NDP will eliminate tuition fees for high school upgrading and English Language Learning (ELL) programs.

For post-secondary education, the UCP commits to reducing provincial regulations on universities and colleges, and scaling provincial funding for post-secondary programs based on economic returns. The NDP emphasizes stable funding, and expanding enrollment in post-secondary institutions. The Alberta Party promises 45,000 new post-secondary spaces by 2024, maintaining the tuition cap, and establishing a loan forgiveness program for post-secondary graduates who stay in Alberta, particularly rural communities. Both the UCP and Alberta Party have plans for supporting commercialization of post-secondary research.

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Fund enrollment growth.
  • Ensure timely creation of gay-straight alliances (GSAs) when requested by students.
  • Build and modernize 70 schools across the province with an emphasis on high schools.
  • Add 3,000 new post-secondary spaces dedicated to technology education.
  • Make the Classroom Improvement Fund permanent, and supplement it with additional in-class resources.
  • Continue to build playgrounds for every new school built and assist mature neighbourhoods to replace aging and outdated school playgrounds.
  • Expand new language programs in schools, and create new Filipino, Punjabi, Somali, and Cantonese offerings.
  • Eliminate tuition fees for high school upgrading and ELL programs.
  • Provide stable, consistent funding to post-secondary institutions.
  • Renew the funding formula, and focus resources on creating new spaces in post-secondary institutions.
  • Increase investments in foreign qualification recognition to improve abilities for newcomers to have their education and experience recognized.
Alberta Party
  • All children will need to have up-to-date immunizations in order to attend publicly-funded schools (including public, charter, separate schools).
  • Double the number of educational assistants in the K-12 system.
  • Retain the cap on post-secondary tuition.
  • “Eliminate tuition fees for high school upgrading and English Language Learning programs.”
  • Create 45,000 new spaces in post-secondary schools by 2024. “Of these spaces, 3,000 will be dedicated to Indigenous-led programs.”
  • Expand the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) so it can be accessed by more young people, and make it a year-round program.
  • Make it easier for new research discoveries at post-secondary institutions to be commercialized.
  • Establish a provincial student loan forgiveness program for graduates who are willing to stay, live, and work in Alberta (addition student loan forgiveness will be made available for graduates who are willing to live and work in rural Alberta communities).
United Conservative Party
  • Maintain K-12 education spending at the current amount. [The UCP would not increase public education spending to keep up with inflation and population growth.]
  • Allow parents to be told if their child joins a GSA.
  • Reduce regulations throughout the K-12 education system.
  • Do an audit of class sizes.
  • “End the focus on so-called 'discovery' or 'inquiry' learning.”
  • “Pause” the curriculum review and open consultations to “a wider range of perspectives.”
  • Review whether to re-introduce the Grade 3 Provincial Achievement Test and the 50/50 between diploma exams and school grades for Grade 12.
  • Implement language and math assessments for students in Grades 1–3.
  • Introducing “teacher testing” to test teachers’ knowledge of subject areas.
  • Ensure that Alberta universities “require that teachers take courses in the subjects they will one day teach in schools.”
  • “Affirm parents have primary responsibility for the education of their children.”
  • “Protect the status and funding of independent schools in legislation.”
  • Facilitate the growth of the number of charter school, and give “charter schools [priority] above other possible uses for surplus public-school infrastructure.”
  • Expand alternative programs in the public education system.
  • “Maintain funding for independent schools and home schoolers at current levels.”
  • “Ensure that requests from parents for blended home school programs are facilitated.”
  • “Introducing more regular assessment of teacher performance.”
  • “Review the current funding formula to ensure that rural schools have adequate resources to deliver programs in an equitable way.”
  • “Update the 2004 Standards for Special Education to reflect new technologies and practices.”
  • Re-introduce the Wellness Resiliency and Partnerships program to support children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in school.
  • “Provide $2 million for planned growth of the number of students with developmental disabilities supported to study in inclusive post-secondary education at Alberta universities, colleges and technical institutes.”
  • “Replicate the successful education partnership in the agreement between Whitecap Dakota First Nation and Saskatoon Public Schools signed in 2014.”
  • “Modernize the Alberta Employment Standards Code to enable junior high school students who work in co-op programs on job sites.”
  • Reduce provincial regulations of Alberta universities and colleges.
  • Correlate provincial funding of post-secondary programs to “economic returns for taxpayers.”
  • Help commercialize more intellectual property developed at Alberta universities and colleges.
  • Require Alberta universities and colleges establish free speech policies “that conform to the University of Chicago Statement on Principles of Free Expression.”
  • Expand the CAREERS: Next Generation program.
  • Dedicate $1 million for trades scholarships.
  • Expand the Women Building Futures program.
  • “Expand the apprenticeship model to other careers with emerging demand such as coding and green technologies.”

Related Parkland Institute content

A plan for Alberta’s post-secondary institutions? (Blog)
Post-secondary education not premier’s priority (Opinion)
Who controls knowledge? (Opinion)
Delivery Matters: Cyber Charter Schools and K-12 Education in Alberta (Report)

Childcare, and early childhood education

The NDP and Alberta Party both propose approaches for expanding access to subsidized child care. The NDP commits to expanding its $25-per-day child care program to all current child care spaces in the province and to adding 13,000 new licensed child care spaces in the next five years. The Alberta Party would introduce a direct, income-tested financial support for child care, and a caregiver tax credit for those who stay home with young children. The UCP does not have planks in its election platform regarding child care or early childhood education.

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Developing a comprehensive Alberta Affordable Child Care Program:
    • Expand $25-a-day child care to all current child care spaces.
    • Add 13,000 new child care spaces over five years.
    • Improve staff training, implementation of the new curriculum, and promotion of non-standard hour care for child care.
    • Create an online portal for families to find child care providers.
    • Regulate the amount a child care centre can charge for a spot on a waitlist.
Alberta Party
  • Develop the Children First plan:
    • Direct, income-tested financial support that follows the child for lower- and middle-income families to apply to any licensed childcare provider. Cover 100% of the child care costs for those in full time post-secondary, and those who make minimum wage.
    • Caregiver tax credit (income-tested) for parents/guardians who stay home to care for young children.
  • Comprehensive review of Alberta’s child care legislation with the goal of making it easier to create more licensed, safe, affordable, high-quality child care spaces.
  • Investment credit to incentivise employers to create licensed child care spaces for employees’ children.
  • Create a ministry of early childhood.
United Conservative Party

The UCP does not have planks in its election platform regarding child care or early childhood education.

Related Parkland Institute content

Equal Worth: Designing Effective Pay Equity Laws for Alberta (Report)
For women, it’s the Alberta Disadvantage (Opinion)
Alberta’s so-called energy diversification plan: Doubling down on oil at the expense of public services, women (Blog)
Family Day on the Treadmill: Alberta Families at Risk of Too Much Stress (Fact Sheet)
More than Nickels and Dimes: Albertans Pay Highest Out-of-Pocket Costs for Services (Fact Sheet)

Seniors

All three parties discuss funding more long-term care beds, however, none indicate that these beds will be entirely publicly delivered. The NDP commits to building 2,000 new long-term care and dementia beds within five years. The Alberta Party specifies that its proposed 3,500 new beds will be delivered in partnership with community organizations. The UCP does not specify how many long-term care beds it will fund, but pledges to prioritize funding for new beds through "community, non-profit, and independent providers."

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Remove all co-payments on prescription drugs for seniors earning less than $75,000, saving the average eligible senior $200 per year.
  • Build 2,000 new long-term care and dementia care beds within five years.
  • Pilot teams to go to seniors’ centres and drop-ins to assist seniors in accessing services, informing them about their eligibility for different programs, and assisting them in completing applications.
Alberta Party
  • Partner with community organizations to create 3,500 long-term care beds. The platform estimates each bed will cost $65,000 to establish and $75,000 per year to operate, meaning the pledge comes with a $230 million capital cost and $260 million annual operating cost.
  • Create a pilot project in mid-sized cities like Grande Prairie and Medicine Hat to help seniors and families with costs of home supports such as snow shoveling, meal preparation, grocery delivery, and lawn maintenance.
  • Create an Alberta Caregiver Tax Credit to support caregivers, ranging from $2,182 to $6,986 per year for each caregiver.
  • Modify wait list management policies to keep spouses together in supportive and assisted living situations.
  • Consolidate 10 different provincial programs currently providing funding to organizations that support seniors into one application.
  • Work with Indigenous leaders and organizations to improve programs and facilities to support cultural, spiritual, language, dietary, and inter-generational care-giving practices, and support training to caregivers to help ensure culturally appropriate care-giving.
  • Establish a separate ministry of seniors and ministry of housing to cover distinct budgets and grants.
United Conservative Party
  • “Prioritize capital funding for the immediate creation of new long-term care beds to community, non-profit, and independent providers.”
  • “Return to using the Affordable Supportive Living Initiative partnerships.”
  • Allow the creation of “new personal care homes (PCHs) with a maximum of 15 people.”
  • “Maintain all seniors’ benefits.”

Related Parkland Institute content

Some modes of elder care delivery are more equal than others (Opinion)
Losing Ground: Alberta’s Residential Elder Care Crisis (Report)
From Bad to Worse: Residential Elder Care in Alberta (Report)
Delivery Matters: The Impacts of For-profit Ownership in Long-Term Care (Fact Sheet)

Agriculture and farm workers

All parties emphasize the improving processes with the Agriculture Finance Services Corporation: the NDP to expand financing for non-traditional crops and livestock; the Alberta Party for new markets, crops, livestock, and succession planning; and the UCP for better services and responsiveness. The NDP proposes using $81 million from the carbon levy to help farmers transition to energy-efficient equipment, while the Alberta Party emphasizes agricultural research, and certification programs. The UCP and Alberta Party would both exempt small farms from the labour reforms adopted under the NDP government’s Bill 6, and the UCP would carry out a consultation process on repealing the bill.

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Transfer $81 million to farmers from the carbon levy to transition to lower energy and energy efficient equipment.
  • Streamline processes and reduce wait times for farmers applying for government approvals related to farmland, including environmental permits, and lease transfers.
  • Create a one-stop portal for farmers to access government programs and services.
  • Establish a new system for recycling agricultural plastics to reduce waste.
  • Direct the Agriculture Finance Services Corporation to extend financing for non-traditional crops and livestock.
  • Develop a unit to assist retiring farmers in succession planning, and to encourage younger farmers to get into the industry.
  • Maintain funding for local 4-H societies, and agricultural societies, and working with them to improve their governance.
Alberta Party
  • Establish a new fund, as part of Alberta Innovates, with annual funding of $100 million beginning in 2019–20 to support research, and providing funding to industry-led projects. These projects will focus on processing, and upgrading plant-based proteins, biofuels, and sustainability initiatives.
  • Provide $2 million to support an agri-tourism development fund.
  • Allocate $2 million to create a certification office for Alberta farmers and ranchers to obtain value-add certifications.
  • Partner with industry to develop an export program to sell more Albertan raw and value-added agriculture products abroad.
  • Ensure a portion of renewable energy auctions are allocated to biofuel-based projects.
  • Review of the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation to provide better service to farmers including developing succession planning programs, explore non-traditional crops and livestock, and help producers enter new markets.
  • Update Bill 6 to exempt small farms.
  • Subject sales of Crown land for agricultural use to consultation with the agricultural industry, First Nations communities, and other stakeholders.
United Conservative Party
  • Consult with farmers, ranchers, and farm workers about repealing the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act and replacing it with new legislation.
  • Require farm and ranch employers to maintain workplace insurance for their employees. The insurance can be purchased from the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta [the current requirement] or from a private provider [if the standards of the private insurance meet an acceptable level of coverage “for such things as medical and return-to-work support services, and protection against loss of income”].
  • Exempt farms from the employment safety legislation if the farm employs three or fewer paid workers over a “substantial period” of the year.
  • Reduce regulations that apply to farms and ranches.
  • “Streamline the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation to improve services and responsiveness to farmers.”
  • Have farmers set agriculture research priorities.
  • Review “risk mitigation programs.”
  • Consult on Crown land sales, including consultations with First Nations.
  • “Create a Property and Farmer’s Rights Advocate Office.”

Related Parkland Institute content

UCP pledge to repeal Bill 6 would endanger farm workers (Blog)
Farm injury data supports mandatory safety rules and injury compensation (Blog)
Despite realpolitik, new farm worker safety rules are a significant win (Blog)
Farm worker injury study bolsters arguments for farm safety legislation (Blog)
Are Bill 6 recommendations about saving lives or saving money? (Blog)
Bill 6 will right a long-standing wrong (Blog)
A Dirty Business: The Exclusion of Alberta Farm Workers from injury Compensation (Report)

Political finance, and government transparency and accountability

All parties propose government and/or electoral reforms. The UCP advocates for increased transparency in government decisions and increased involvement of civil society in public service delivery. The UCP also commits to limiting donor contributions to Political Action Committees (PACs) to $30,000, and prohibiting foreign entities from donating to PACs. The NDP promises stronger disclosure rules for PACs, a review and modernization of Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), and extending the cooling-off period for former officials to two years. The Alberta Party platform focuses on improving MLA conduct in the legislative assembly, and the process for addressing complaints against MLAs.

Alberta New Democratic Party
  • Strengthen the Conflict of Interest Act to prevent former officials using their position to gain undue influence and benefits, and extend the cooling-off period to two years.
  • Review and modernize Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP).
  • Strengthen enforcement, and make stronger rules for Political Action Committee disclosures to take “dark money” out of campaigns.
  • Close the loophole of party leadership races not having spending limits to stop special interests from taking over political parties.
  • Give the Elections Commissioner greater powers to report on the status and results of investigations into contraventions of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act.
  • Review the Election Act to find ways to make voting easier, combat low voter turnout, and evaluate modern voting methods such as electronic voting.
Alberta Party
  • “Update the formal Code of Conduct for all MLAs, to bring it into the 21st century.”
  • “Change the rules so that formal complaints made against sitting MLAs and Executive Council staff are investigated through the Office of the Legislative Assembly.”
  • “Under the new process, once a formal recommendation is issued by the Office of the Legislative Assembly, it will be delivered to the Speaker, who will then release it to the public in a transparent manner.”
United Conservative Party
  • Ensure there is transparency in how the government prioritizes infrastructure spending.
  • Publish an annual Government of Alberta Infrastructure Report to update Albertans “on the progress made in meeting the various commitments in the Five-Year Capital Plan.”
  • Allow charities and non-profit organizations “to apply for a 'common sense exemption' from regulations” when the regulations would “[prevent] a social good from being performed.”
  • “Wherever possible, partner with civil society organisations to deliver government programming and services where they can achieve results more efficiently and effectively.”
  • Create an annual Alberta Municipalities Measurement Index, so Albertans can compare local governments across several key fiscal indicators.
  • “Introduce a Recall Act.”
  • Limit donor contributions to political action committees (PACs) to $30,000.
  • Ban organizations that are formally affiliated with a political party from running PACs.
  • Ban “foreign entities” from donating to PACs.
  • “Establish a specific fixed election date.”
  • “Allow free votes for MLAs on everything not deemed a confidence vote or a key platform commitment.”
  • “Stop floor crossing by requiring that MLAs resign and seek a by-election before they can join the UCP Caucus.”
  • “Renew the Senatorial Selection Act and hold elections for Senatorial nominees in 2021.”
  • “Introduce the End Partisan Government Advertising Act, making it illegal for governments to advertise in the run-up to an election and to use tax dollars for partisan ads at any time.”

Related Parkland Institute content

Ending Pay to Play: The Need for Political Finance Reform in Alberta (Fact Sheet)
Shooting the Messenger: The Need for Effective Whistleblower Protection in Alberta (Report)
Delivery Matters: Public Infrastructure, Privatized Maintenance, and Government Transparency (Report)
Delivery Matters: Infrastructure Privatization and Accountability (Fact Sheet)

Ian Hussey

Ian Hussey is a research manager at Parkland Institute. He is also a steering committee member and the Alberta research manager for the SSHRCC-funded Corporate Mapping Project. Before joining Parkland Institute, Ian worked for several international development organizations, including as the co-founder and executive director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network. Ian holds BA Honours degrees in Sociology and in English from Acadia University, an MA in Sociology from the University of Victoria, and his PhD courses and exams at York University focused on the sociology of colonialism and on political economy. His writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, New Political Economy, Edmonton Journal, National Observer, and The Tyee.

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Alison McIntosh

Alison McIntosh is a research manager at Parkland Institute. She completed her undergraduate degree in Human Geography at the University of Alberta. Her master's research in Geography at Simon Fraser University was part of a SSHRC-funded, community-based project investigating food security for low-income people living with HIV who use drugs. After finishing her MA, Alison worked in student services research, and research ethics at the University of Calgary.

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