Wildrose party pledges return to balanced budgets

Alberta’s Wildrose party has released its policy platform for the May 5 election.

A balanced budget by 2017 without raising taxes is the foundation of the platform that party leader Brian Jean presented in Calgary April 8.

“We will achieve this with actual reductions in government, only cutting PC waste and protecting our front line services,” he said.

The opposition party promised to reduce government managerial staff by 33 percent. The number of Alberta Health Services managers and consultants would be reduced by half, and a three year salary freeze would be imposed on remaining managers.

Included is a limit on public executives’ salary and a roll back of elected officials’ salaries.

“We want to make sure we no longer have the most expensive cabinet ministers in Canada,” Jean said.

As well, travel, advertising budgets and conference expenses would be cut in half.

The overall savings would reduce expenses by $2.2 billion, a party news release said April 9.

Jean also called for a renewed savings plan, which would put 50 percent of budget surpluses into the province’s Heritage Trust Fund and increase the fund to $200 billion in 20 years.

As well, the party promised to set up a contingency account that should reach $35 billion. That money would then be diverted to debt repayment.

Another priority is to develop a patient-centred health and seniors care program, which would make more decisions at the local level.

However, the centralized Alberta Health Services, which now oversees the entire province, would continue to exist in some form, he told reporters.

The education portion of the plan promises elimination of mandatory school fees, a back to basics curriculum and a simpler grading system for students in Grades 5 to 12.

The rural platform promises legislation to protect property rights and amendments to controversial land use bills.

An infrastructure priority list would be established, and funding for water projects could be doubled in the next five years.

barbara.duckworth@producer.com

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