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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wildrose Alliance slams cuts to welfare programs, but offers no meaningful alternative

Wildrose Alliance Deputy Leader and MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, Paul Hinman, questioned the government Wednesday on its plans to reduce funding to social agencies and service providers.

"While we have warned the government for years that they need to reduce overall spending, they have chosen to cut front-line services for people with developmental disabilities - the most vulnerable people possible," said Hinman. "The government has an obligation to make sure that the most vulnerable in our society are looked after. For the Tories to make their first concrete cuts here is repulsive and disgraceful."

According to the Wildrose Alliance, the Tory government informed People with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) agencies, through emails and letters sent out on December 9, that they have until December 18 to present a business plan that will make "adjustments to current-year contracts."

"Instead of showing real leadership by rolling back the obscene wage hike that Premier Stelmach and his cabinet have received, or in cutting back on the explosion of costs in his own office, social agencies and charities are now taking the hit," added Hinman.

Taken from a press release today, the party said it would take a different approach to this issue, including the following:

1. Instead of expecting agencies that help the most vulnerable to meet the needs mandated by government, the first cuts should come in the Premier's Office and his costly public relations activities and ad campaigns.

2. Cut the expenses and cost increases in the Premier's Office and his Executive Office by at least 25 per cent and place an immediate freeze on all discretionary bonuses for the same staff. Instead of asking for money back from PDD service providers, perhaps the $40 million in discretionary bonuses paid out to senior government managers (over and above any contractual obligations) could be returned to cover these immediate needs.

3. Actually sitting down with the employees and service providers who help carry out an important mandate for people in need.

4. Asking for the agencies' help to reduce costs, identify outdated programs and monitor costs effectively.

5. Implement the findings of the Auditor General's 2009 report that noted that the government (NOT the agencies) has not put proper cost and monitoring controls in place for these third-party contracts.

6. Ensure that funding is targeted to outcomes and solutions for clients, instead of overly costly and constant re-assessments (different than monitoring and proper business controls) being carried out by government and outside consultants for the same thing.

"Instead, the Stelmach government is once again showing its willingness to break contracts that it has already signed and is hoping that the people who are affected by about a 10 per cent cut to the PDD budget will not speak out or that Albertans will forget this cruel Christmas cut," Hinman concluded.

In short, Hinman is looking for cuts in the budget of the Office of the Premier and more consultations with PDD service providers. These are good ideas as far as political ideas go – cuts to the Premier’s budget would weaken his political machine and consultations are a great way to avoid making tough decisions. But how will these suggestions bring the government closer to meeting its promise to bring Alberta back into a surplus position in three years?

The 2009-10 provincial budget contained a staggering $4.7-billion deficit. Eliminating this deficit will take tough political decisions, and those relying on government programs and paycheques will be hurt by these decisions in the short term. There is no avoiding this pain, if the province is serious about balancing the books. So the Wildrose Alliance must resist the urge to score political points. They should instead support any and all efforts to reduce government spending.

(If Hinman supports efforts to “reduce overall spending,” as he says, would that not include cuts to PDD services? Does it really matter that this cut came “first”?)

The Tories, however, are presenting a false choice to voters: reduce government spending or face crippling deficits. If the Wildrose Alliance wants to be an honest critic of the Progressive Conservative government, they need to offer a third choice: privatization.

Rather than let the government decide how much should be spent and on what priorities, government services should be privatized and defunded so that private citizens through private organizations can make these decisions. While it is necessary for government to spend less on social programs, it is not necessary for private citizens through private organizations to spend less. And the only thing needed to make this happen is to get government out of the way and make deep cuts to taxes, including oil and gas royalties.

This vision is what Dr. Marvin Olasky called “compassionate conservatism,” before this term was co-opted by welfare statists on the right. It’s an idea worth exploring if we hope to avoid a tug-of-war over government spending that will make deficit reduction impossible, and entrench bureaucratic programs that under-serve society.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on December 16, 2009 | Permalink


i joined this party, went to the convention, Danielle Smith and i talked about liberty blah blah blah, talked about whittling away at the welfare state, and now i hear the usual socialist platitudes.

oh well... maybe we should just face the fact that parasitism and fear is what keeps mommystate in business.

gotta keep those victims coming. god, what a sense of entitlement these pols and proles have to my wallet.

question is, how long can we sustain it?

Posted by: shel | 2009-12-16 10:33:03 PM

Danielle Smith takes a week off for some well deserved time on the beach, and Hinman re-invents himself as an expert on power lines (not enough to oppose Bill 50, Hinman went on-air talking about how GOVERNMENT should properly run electricity generation and distribution) and starts sounding like any pro-victim, pro-welfare state social democrat on these recent cuts.

Hinman is letting his election go to his head, and Danielle Smith better take a firmer reign on him and the communication geniuses in her office.

Posted by: Sigh | 2009-12-17 2:46:32 AM

Hinman's position is in DIRECT opposition to Danielle Smith's stated policy, namely that civil society, charities, religious outfits, families, mutual aid societies, co-operatives, individuals, etc., take charge with government getting out of the way and removing any and all barriers that stand in the way of these good works.

Hinman is fast becoming a loose cannon.

Posted by: Sigh | 2009-12-17 2:50:07 AM

It is not especially clear why we NEED a Paul Hinman when we already HAVE the PCs...

Posted by: Sigh | 2009-12-17 2:51:54 AM

I've seen Hinman directly contradict Danielle on policy since Danielle became leader while Danielle was standing right beside him at the podium. Hinman is not the only holdover from the A Alliance days who apparently must be "respected" either, in the eyes of the old guard. There is a culture of loyalty that means people from fringe party days will continue to have outsize influence.

Posted by: anonymous | 2009-12-17 10:07:44 AM

Everywhere on the net I am seeing panicked socialists grasping at straws drawing stupid conclusions and attempting to make mountains out of molehills.

Sorry, we can see through it.

The fact is that the entire PC party has been gutted and is already folding into the WRAP at the grass roots level. This is happening with blinding speed.

The PC MLA's all know this and have capitulated. Many are tacitly supporting the WRAP because the WRAP is truer to their own personal values than is the PC's.

My hope is that once the WRAP has 80 constituency associations (they have 40 already) and are well enough established, that the PC's actually defeat themselves and let the WRAP emerge. Not going to happen I know..... But when the PC party popularity drops below 20% (it is 25% now) then you have to wonder what might happen. The East Bloc collapsed as fast and the socialist PC's are little different from them.

Danielle Smith is a "tough bitch". Just check out her days as a school trustee. She won't take any sh!t from fossils, relics and nutbars.

Posted by: snowgirl | 2009-12-17 10:28:12 AM

Yeah, so tough she beat um Craig Chandler and that guy who protests at gay pride parades. Yeah, she is real tough and on her way to beating the PCs!

Posted by: Rider Fan | 2009-12-17 2:33:12 PM

To: Rider Fan

If you have ever faced Craig Chandler in a nomination you would know he is ruthless and not to be understimated at any time.

Dyrholm / Chandler was the perfect campaign for Round 1. If you can fight him and win, the PC's are mild in comparison.

She is the next Premier. I would bet money on this.

Posted by: Kevin Federoff | 2009-12-23 12:43:08 PM

She is the next Premier. I would bet money on this.
Posted by: Kevin Federoff | 2009-12-23 12:43:08 PM

But would you bet your life on it?

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-12-23 12:50:17 PM

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