tp-edm-gil-mcgowan

Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour says there's growing public opposition to planned government cuts. ((CBC))

A coalition of 10 unions and lobby groups launched a new campaign Friday to try to stop provincial cuts to public services.

The campaign, called Join Together Alberta, is organizing a series of 22 town hall events across Alberta to rally public resistance to the budget cuts aimed at dealing with Alberta's anticipated deficit of $4.3 billion.

"I think there is a growing feeling among Albertans — whether it is here in Edmonton or in Calgary or across the province — that this government is heading off in the wrong direction," said Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

"They are going the wrong way when it comes to health care, education and basically any other public service that people are concerned about."

The executive director of the Gateway Association for Community Living said people don't always recognize what the cuts will mean to their community unless they're directly affected.

"Even if it's not something that will impact them today, it can very likely impact them or someone they know and love in the next little while," said Cindy de Bruijn.

Concern over new finance minister

Public Interest Alberta, one of the groups in the coalition, is particularly concerned with the appointment of Ted Morton as Alberta's new finance minister.

"I think he said the other day that we'd been eating at the all-you-can-eat buffet for too long," said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of PIA.

"I don't think people who have been struggling to find services for their children, or seniors who've been struggling to get care can say that we've been eating at the all-you-can-eat buffet."

"The fact of the matter is that we have billions of dollars in our sustainability fund. Every other jurisdiction in North America and around the world are actually putting money into investing and stimulating their economy, not cutting."

The town halls will begin Jan. 25, with events in Brooks and Olds. The campaign will culminate at the University of Calgary on Feb. 16 and the Polish Hall in Edmonton on Feb. 17.