Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Broken Promises

You can't break promises if you don't make any.

However, Stelmach wouldn't guarantee his government will continue natural gas rebates for all Albertans

On the other hand its bad news when you make a promise you know you can't keep.

The Tories couldn't seem to do anything right. When Stelmach promised to graduate more doctors from Alberta universities, for example, the doctors themselves said the idea won't work.

When he made an announcement at a Red Deer day care centre, some angry mothers who happened to be there berated the day-care promise as meaningless.

But it only gets worse when the only promise you can keep is that insurance premiums will go up because of your governments bad law.

Premier Ed Stelmach raised the spectre of rising auto-insurance premiums Monday, saying a recent court ruling that struck down the government's cap on payouts for soft-tissue injuries could result in higher costs for Alberta drivers.

"This may have tremendous pressure on (an) increase in rates," Stelmach said during a campaign stop in Edmonton.

The comments follow a claim by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the industry's lobbying arm, that the Court of Queen's Bench ruling could increase premiums an average of $200 a year for every driver in the province
And then there are those promises your government made but failed to keep.

Neils Bach, 77, spoke for many residents of the Strathmore-Brooks riding
when he begged Stelmach to start construction of a promised new 100-bed facility now.

"Mr. Stelmach, we need a new and much bigger nursing home in Strathmore. It's 15 years overdue."

Stelmach appeared moved by the plea, but couldn't give residents a specific date when construction will begin. "We'll get it built and we'll get it built as quickly as possible," he promised. "I really do empathize with your situation."

One elderly lady appeared exasperated by the delay.

"I sat in this room four years ago and heard there would be an extended-care facility open in spring 2007," said Madeline Scott.

"I'm a person of my word," the premier responded. "We allocated funds for a 100-bed facility. It's going to be built."

He said the funds have been approved and it's up to the health region to get the facility planned, designed and constructed. When he set out the process and time frame, one woman said she may not live that long.

Or making a promise sort of, maybe, sometime in the next four years we will do it if re-elected. When you could do it now with the swipe of a pen.

A former Member of Parliament from New Brunswick has launched a public battle against the Alberta's government's policy of charging monthly premiums for health care.

Gilles Bernier, who once served as MP for the riding of Tobique-Mactaquac, moved to Alberta in 2006 to start his own business. After applying for an Alberta health care card, he was surprised to find a $45 monthly fee attached. Bernier has refused to pay these premiums on principle because he says paying for health care violates the Canada Health Care Act.

"Under federal legislation, Canadians are entitled to receive free, basic health care," Bernier said. "Charging for health care contravenes the spirit of the Act and it puts our universal health care system in jeopardy. At the same time, it sets up a two-tiered system. Canadians in other provinces do not pay the fees or premiums that residents of Alberta are paying. Many citizens of this province are not aware of this and they are shocked to find it out. Like me, they feel betrayed by this government and unfair health care policy."

Now that a provincial election has been called, Bernier said the time is right to take the issue into the public forum. As the election campaign gets underway, the incumbent Conservatives of Alberta have suddenly promised to abolish the controversial health care premiums in four years.

"They know it is an issue with voters, especially new voters," Bernier said. "But four years is too long to wait for the health care Albertans should be receiving -- the same system provided to other Canadians. Health care premiums should be abolished the day after the election, not in 2012. If this election is about leadership, then Premier Stelmach should show leadership and repeal his government's policy of charging for basic health care. The decision is his to make if he wants to win this election."

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