5 things to expect from an NDP or UCP government

Here are five of the biggest promises made by the two front-runner's platforms for a glimpse of what we can likely expect from the next four years. 

Here are the top promises from each party's platform

Both UCP Leader Jason Kenney and NDP Leader Rachel Notley have unveiled their party's full platforms heading into the spring election. (Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Rachel Notley is promising a better province with more signature bills if Albertans chose to re-elect her party.

Her platform makes it clear that she feels the NDP has more shared values with the average Albertan than the UCP does.

And United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney also has announced a plethora of policies, saying the UCP is the clear choice over the NDP if Albertans want to get their economy back on track. 

Here are five of the biggest promises made by the two front-runner's platforms for a glimpse of what we can likely expect from the next four years. 

For a more fulsome and up-to-date list of promises made by all the major Alberta parties, check out our Promise Tracker.

1. Roll out $25-a-day child care: NDP

Right now, it's just a pilot project that susidizes 7,300 spaces across the province. But the NDP plans to build on that and phase-in $25-a-day child care across the province, and add 13,000 new spaces over the next five years.

Notley has said making child care affordable (saving families with children under five an average of $300 per month) will help the economy by both bringing up labour force participation and closing the largest workforce participation gender gap in Canada.

The party estimates it will increase employment by 43,000 people and add nearly $6 billion each year to the GDP.

It's a plan that's expected to cost $1.5 billion over the next five years, the most expensive commitment in the party's platform.

2. Build new schools: NDP

The NDP platform says instead of cutting spending, it plans to keep it in line with population growth. And its education plan is in line with that. The party says it will reduce overcrowding, with 15,000 new students expected to start school this year, by providing $1.3 billion to build or modernize 70 schools across the province.

Notley says the party will also hire nearly 1,000 more teachers and spend $5 million each year to replace 100 aging and outdated playgrounds.

And it will cut tuition fees for high school upgrading and English language classes.

3. Slash emergency room waits: NDP

Notley says her party will help Albertans get medical attention faster by spending an additional $90 million a year and will work to get major medical centres like the Calgary Cancer Centre and Edmonton's "superlab" built. 

She's forecasting 40,000 Albertans will get faster cancer, open-heart and cataract surgeries in the next three years under the NDP's plan.

It will make prescription drugs cheaper for seniors. Those making less than $75,000 a year won't have to pay for prescription co-pays, something the NDP says will save seniors $200 a year at an annual cost to the government of $110 million.

Other investments include $50 million to expand reproductive health and mental health clinics for both Calgary and Edmonton to provide immediate care for people in crisis.

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It's hoping to recoup some of those costs with a lawsuit against the manufacturers of opioid medications.

Notley has also suggested that under the UCP, funds could be cut that would put 4,000 nurses' jobs at risk.

4. Get a pipeline built: NDP

The NDP's platform includes no new taxes, and with spending being maintained or increasing in most areas, it will have to get that revenue from somewhere.

The party's promises hinge on its plan to get oil to new markets and at higher prices.

Notley says she will continue to fight hard to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built. And, she says, the NDP will "supercharge" investments in the oilsands by attracting $75 billion in new investments to fund major expansions to refining and upgrading, creating 70,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

And the party says it will adopt reforms to streamline regulatory processes to get oil and gas projects up and running sooner, without sacrificing environmental and safety standards. 

5. Stick to the climate plan: NDP

But despite those energy industry promises, the NDP is committing to its Climate Leadership Plan, which includes reducing methane emissions by 45 per cent by 2025 and phasing out coal generation by 2030. 

The platform also accuses Kenney and the UCP of being climate change deniers.

Since the plan was implemented, the province's greenhouse gas emissions have decreased 16 per cent, the NDP says. 

1. Bye bye carbon tax: UCP

Killing its bête noire is the first order of business for the UCP. Dubbed Bill 1, the party says it would eliminate the $30 per tonne tax on greenhouses gases on Day 1 of a new legislature sitting. 

The tax was brought in by the NDP as the central pillar of its Climate Leadership Plan and imposes a cost on everything from filling your tank to heating your home. But the plan also comes with rebates for most Albertans to offset the cost. 

If the Alberta tax is ditched, a federal carbon tax will be implemented, something Jason Kenney says his government would fight in court alongside Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick.

2. Farm and labour changes: UCP

The UCP's Bill 2 would eliminate the NDP's controversial introduction of workplace safety rules and insurance for Alberta's farms and ranches. Kenney says his government would then consult on what should replace it, while maintaining some kind of worker insurance would remain, whether private or public.

The UCP would also institute different levels for minimum wage based on age and experience. It has said it would remove the ability of the labour board to impose automatic union certification when there was interference with the union organizing process and restore the secret ballot in union certification votes.

Kenney also says the party would return to former banked overtime rules that were in place before changes made by the NDP. If workers aren't able to take the time off within six months under the UCP's proposal, banked overtime would be paid out at time and a half.

3. Tax cuts and red tape reduction: UCP

It's a signature policy for the UCP: slashing the corporate tax rate from 12 per cent to 8 per cent over four years. That process would start with a one per cent reduction this July.

The rate was increased from 10 per cent under the NDP. 

Kenney has also vowed to create a minister of red tape who would oversee an overhaul of the province's regulations and reduce those regulations by a third. A UCP government would not allow any new regulations to be implemented unless another was taken off the books. 

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4. Oil-by-rail and the war room: UCP

Rachel Notley unveiled a $3.7-billion plan to lease railcars from CN Rail and CP Rail to move more crude out of the province, something Kenney says his government would immediately cancel. He has said the savings would help shoulder the first year pains of his tax cuts. 

The cancellation is part of a larger energy strategy that would see his government create a so-called war room to fight opponents of oil and gas development and push hard for a new pipeline. 

Some measures Kenney has suggested the UCP will take include challenging the charitable status of organizations like the Suzuki Foundation, supporting an effort to sue Greenpeace for "defamation" against the oilsands and holding a referendum on equalization payments as a way of challenging Ottawa.

5. Health-care review: UCP

Kenney said the UCP will commission a review of Alberta Health Services within 30 days of taking office. He says the point will be to ensure money is spent on front-line services and that he's open to more private competition for procedures like MRIs.

More recently, Kenney said the UCP would kill a proposed $590-million laboratory hub planned for Edmonton.

It's not all cuts though. He's promising $100 million for mental health and $20 million for palliative care.

With files from Sarah Rieger and Drew Anderson


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