Alberta election: party platforms

The Western Producer has compiled the agriculture platforms of the four major parties competing in Alberta’s April 23 election. As well, Wild Rose Agricultural Producers, the province’s general farm group, posed six questions to the party leaders, which can be found at www.wrap.ca. As of April 16, the Wildrose Party of Alberta responses had not yet been provided. Lynn Jacobson, WRAP president, said the party indicated it needed more time. As of press time, responses had been provided by Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor, Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, NDP leader Brian Mason and Progressive Conservative party  leader Alison Redford.

New Democrats – Leader: Brian Mason

Agriculture

– support extending alternate land use services to other areas

– re-establish non-refundable checkoffs for agricultural groups

– establish land use process to give greater influence to regional stakeholders

Rural development

– regulate electricity rates to ensure low prices and examine utility projects through public hearings. Make power corporations pay for transmission lines and infrastructure

– encourage local power generation to reduce need for expensive power lines

– stop expansion of water markets and make human and ecosystem needs the priority

– provide interest-free loans up to $5,000 to help retrofit homes for energy efficiency

– appoint an independent scientific panel to review and make recommendations on hydraulic fracturing

– offer free camping in provincial parks

– discontinue carbon capture and storage program

Rural health care

– reduce emergency wait times by expanding home care, build 1,500 long-term care beds, expand mental health care, spend $100 million more on home care

– give seniors living at home a break on prescription drugs by capping co-payments at $25 per month

– increase number of family doctors and nurses by providing incentives to graduates who work in Alberta

– introduce basic dental health plan for all children younger than 18

Rural education

– work with school boards to ensure adequate and stable funding for next four years

– prohibit school instructional fees

– freeze university tuition fees

– Forgive $1,000 per year in student loans for post-secondary graduates living in Alberta, until loans are paid

– work with trade unions to increase apprenticeship training

Liberal – Leader: Raj Sherman

Agriculture

– diversify markets through investment in trade offices

– terminate carbon sequestration program

– support net metering where farmers can sell electricity back into grid if produced on their property

– support production of “greener” energy for farm micro-generation projects

– support preservation of agricultural land and encourage municipalities to grow upward, not outward

– preserve water allocations to farmers by encouraging water conservation in other areas such as oil production

Rural development

– establish a municipal heritage fund to create stable funding to local governments and for infrastructure

– provide more flexibility to communities in lottery fund distribution and new sources of funding for community associations

– increase regulation on the deregulated electricity market

– provide appeal rights and proper compensation when landowners’ land is impacted by Bill 36

Rural health care

– guarantee surgery and emergency wait times

– get every Albertan a family doctor and wellness team

– expand medical programs into regional colleges and integrate medical training with smaller Alberta communities

– expand home care and seniors care

Rural education

– eliminate school fees

– develop provincial school lunch program

– eliminate university tuition over time

– forgive student debt for graduates who stay and work in Alberta

– expand registered apprenticeship programs

– expand distance learning

– eliminate private school funding

Progressive Conservative – Leader: Alison Redford

Agriculture

– position Alberta as preferred supplier to global markets by securing greater market access, especially in Asia

– make risk management programs simple, bankable and predictable

– examine feasibility of special purpose endowment for agriculture, forestry and biotechnology sectors

– explore new avenues to advance agricultural technology and biotechnology and sustainably raise production capacity

– expand access to local, niche markets

– create incentives to capitalize on biowaste and geothermal opportunities

– ensure regulation is flexible

– make entry to agriculture easier for young people, form Next Generation Advisory Council to engage young farmers and ranchers

– create land reclamation framework

Rural development

– respect property rights of landowners and leaseholders, including existing rights to compensation

– enhance framework and funding for agriculture societies

– continue work on SuperNet, a rural network linking schools, libraries and government offices to the internet

– develop incentives to encourage individual energy efficiency through review of micro-generation regulations

– establish property rights advocate

– review legislation, regulations related to compensation and property rights

Rural health care

– tuition refunds for medical school grads who commit to working in rural community for 10 years

– expand access to locally based medical training

– allocate $10 million in annual funding to Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service

– develop virtual or distance delivery health care, explore video link methods to deliver health advice and diagnosis to reduce disruption of hospital trips

Rural education

– establish bursary program for students from rural and remote communities to get post-secondary education

– encourage collaboration between institutions so students can stay in home communities but get university degree

Wildrose – Leader: Danielle Smith

Agriculture

– create stable and predictable business climate for ranchers and farmers, keep regulatory burden on producers low

– place emphasis on accessing int’l agricultural markets during trade negotiations

– reform agricultural insurance and disaster relief programs to deal with legitimate production and income loss

– targeted relief programs for disasters

– work with federal government to introduce tax reform, including income averaging trust account

– introduce policies that ensure adequate supplies, storage of water

Rural development

– repeal bills 19, 24, 36 and 50 and halt or reverse all activities under these laws

– elevate the status of property rights in Alberta’s Bill of Rights and seek to enshrine property rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

– eliminate or amend ineffective regulations for farmers/ ranchers

Rural health care

– use public insurance to obtain treatment at public, private or non-profit health providers

– decentralize delivery of health-care services to locally funded, managed and integrated hospitals, family physicians and long-term care facilities

– stop building costly health facilities, use savings to reduce wait times

– redirect more of health budget to expand home care

– reduce regulatory barriers to allow non-profits and businesses to establish long-term and palliative care facilities

– kinship palliative care program where family can be compensated for providing end of life care

– scrap seniors drug plan

– establish student loan forgiveness program for health services graduates who stay in Alberta over extended period

Rural education

– decentralize decision making to parents, local/elected school boards and elected school boards

– send per-student funding to the schools while accounting for fixed costs of schools in smaller rural communities

– grant charter schools more flexibility to offer specialized curriculums

– protect parents’ rights to choose education options for their children

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