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Banking on the new year... quickly

Want to have input on $55 billion budget? You have days

First and foremost — Z Novym Rokom! to our readers who celebrated Orthodox New Year on January 14.

And this new year brings a new chance for all Albertans to help chart the financial course for the province. Well, at least another week to have input into the provincial budget.  There's been an online survey available since early December on the Alberta government's website allowing for comments and suggestions on what will be about a $55 billion budget for the province this coming year.

You didn't know that you had a chance to offer your two cents on the billions we will need to operate?  Join the club.

A short Twitter message sent out on January 17 by the province reminded Albertans that January 22 is the deadline to take the survey. And after going over the questions, you may likely see  why the document's availability hasn't been shouted from the rooftops by our provincial leaders.

It's not that the questions are leading, or suggestive. In fact, it would have been nice if there actually 'was' some nuance of suspicion. Nope, this survey gives the resident the choice of deciding what expenses will be cut and what revenue will be increased. Actually, there is one more option ... of finding a balance between cutting expenses and increasing revenues.

It would seem that the option of INCREASING spending is completely off the table.  That says a lot.

But that's not the end of the pointed questions. It then asks the survey-taker to select the departments where those cuts should happen, "the three most important areas where you think spending should be reduced."

Do you want to cut Post Secondary Education, Healthcare, K-12 Education, Environment, Energy, Infrastructure??  Which department? Culture, Service Alberta, Indigenous Relations? Justice? Come on ratepayer, which one is is it going to be? You can pick three!

The survey is so poor that a citizens' group has actually created a parallel survey calling theirs an 'unbiased, non-partisan version.'

There is still some time left, and it is short notice — promoted by that January 17 government tweet  — but on January 18 there is a telephone Town Hall meeting with Alberta's finance minister Travis Toews.  But here's the kicker — that one meeting, which will wrap up the Budget 2022 consultation process, is for "Northern Alberta" residents.  The following night, there's a similar two hour and 30 minute window for "Southern Alberta."  Do you think we can all get a question in?  Maybe we can suggest saving money by not wasting it on self-serving surveys.

It seems that this new year is heading the same way as the old year ... and many more before it. We barely get an opportunity to have input, and what little chance we get seems to lead us down a path they have already paved ... unless they cut paving from the Infrastructure or Transportation budget.

The telephone town hall contact information, and access to the survey can be found HERE.



Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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