The NDP’s platform, now their mandate, includes progressive tax measures that would increase Alberta’s corporate income tax rate from 10 per cent to 12 per cent, reintroduce a progressive income tax so the richest 10 per cent pay more than the current 10 per cent flat rate, and reverse regressive health care levies and user fees that cost families the most. The new government has also promised a resource royalty review to ensure that Albertans receive a fair share of revenues from the exploitation of their natural resources.
They also pledged to take action to create jobs, increase wages, and diversify the economy by restoring the province’s youth job creation program, introducing a new job creator tax credit, raising Alberta’s minimum wage to $15 by 2018, and by increasing value-added processing of natural resources instead of relying on exports out of the province.
Protecting and improving public services was a major element of their platform, particularly in contrast to the Conservative government’s threatened cuts. Commitments include stable and predictable funding for health care, education and municipalities. In health care, priorities include expanding public long-term care beds, improving primary care, ending the province’s costly experiments in privatization, and redirecting the funds to public services. In education it includes phasing in all-day kindergarten, investing in child care, and a tuition freeze for post-secondary education.
On environmental issues, the Notley government plans to take leadership on climate change by phasing out coal fired electricity generation, establishing a green retrofitting loan program, and strengthen environmental standards, monitoring and enforcement.
Promotion of equality is an important part of their agenda. The new government proposes to create a women’s ministry, more family friendly employment standards, more spaces in women’s shelters, and offer more support for family, children’s and community services. The new government’s mandate also includes commitments to a renewed partnership with Indigenous Peoples of Alberta.
Increasing honesty and ethics in government and in decisions over government contracts was a major issue in the campaign. The Conservative government was seen as running the province as its own crony fiefdom, not interested in increasing transparency, accountability or democratic oversight.
Democracy responded loudly. Voter turnout in this election increased to the highest rate in 22 years, with many, especially younger Albertans, voting for the first time. And they voted for an indisputably progressive, reasonable agenda given where Alberta’s policies have been, without pandering to powerful corporate and business interests.
Yes Alberta was due for a change, but the success of the Alberta NDP also shows there is a strong political alternative to austerity, inequality and regressive neoliberal policies—and that voters will support it.