Premier Danielle Smith took to the airwaves Tuesday evening, offering financial support to Albertans to help them get through the next six months.
Rachel Notley, leader of the Alberta NDP, says anyone who heard her message should take caution.
“Many people won’t remember but six months prior to the last election, the UCP voted to increase benefits for vulnerable Albertans, only to then break that promise within weeks of taking office,” she said.
“What we just heard was Danielle Smith claiming she is going to undo the affordability crisis the UCP government has contributed to by reversing their own bad decisions.”
In her addressSmith spoke about payments to families, seniors as well as those who are on AISH, individuals on income support and persons with developmental disabilities.
She is also planning to suspend the fuel tax, a move that originally came under the Kenney government, for a six-month period.
Also announced was a re-indexing of provincial support payments to adjust for inflation, rebates on electricity and utility bills and supports for food banks and low-income Albertans.
“These are just the first steps and there’s much more to do,” Smith said.
“I will ensure every decision our government makes now until this crisis is over balances affordability for Albertans with the need for continued balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility.”
Despite the supports promised by Smith, Notley says Albertans cannot forget the past actions of the UCP government.
“We couldn’t trust the UCP then and we definitely can’t trust them now,” she said, adding that a province with her party in control will be the action Albertans are looking for.
“We’ll take action on the things you don’t have a choice about paying for, like groceries, utilities, insurance, gasoline, tuition and housing,” she said.
“The Alberta NDP will provide a stable, responsible government that supports a resilient economy – one that attracts investment that promotes growth for our strategic sectors and creates good jobs and exciting opportunities every single year.”
Lori Williams, a political scientist with Mount Royal University, says the contents of Smith’s address cover what many Albertans have been waiting to hear.
“This is good news I think for a lot of Albertans that are really struggling financially, and it’s quite targeted at those lower-income groups, so that part of the announcement, I think it is hopeful for Albertans,” she said.
“Whether that’s going to really help in the long run, I think is the bigger question.
“And certainly, Rachel Notley in her response raises questions about whether this is going to continue after the next election, and that’s a question I’m sure a lot of Albertans are wondering about.”
Sometimes, spending promises work, Williams says, but there’s a rough road ahead.
“I think we’re dealing with more difficult challenges here. So promising spending, when that spending doesn’t actually make a difference in the next six months, may lead some people to question whether this government is capable of solving the problems and they might be willing to look elsewhere for that,” she said.
Williams says both Smith and Notley are saying, “You can trust me with the future of the province,” and both made a case for it.
“Rachel Notley was capitalizing on what seems to be the case in a number of public opinion polls, that people are looking at the NDP government as a bit more stable and reliable,” Williams said.
“She pointed to promises made by the UCP before the last election, and that those promises were broken after the election. And so she’s touching right on the questions that Albertans have about Danielle Smith.”
“Daniel Smith is focusing in a way that’s, I think, a great relief to some Albertans on some of the challenges they’re facing in terms of affordability,” she continued.
“But those bigger questions about the health care system, about the economic future of Alberta and the education system, those are things that she’s made promises about, but I think our longer-term solutions are going to be quite a challenge for her in the future.”
The premier’s address, which appeared as a paid advertisement on CTV, aired at 6:30 pm
You can watch in its entirety on CTV News Calgary.
(With files from Jordan Kanygin)