The GPA will be the proactive, not reactive voice for Albertan communities by preventing crime at the source and protecting the necessities of wellbeing for our communities to thrive.
CRIME IS A POLICY FAILURE
Poverty, access to education, food insecurity, addiction, housing and the mental health crisis are the root causes of crime. The surge of these systemic causes stem from the policy choices of past governments that have failed Albertans throughout the province.
Eradicate poverty through a Basic Income for all Albertans:
Poverty is a costly problem for Alberta, with a reported annual cost of $9.5 billion to its residents, excluding government-funded social services and subsidies. This staggering figure includes $1.2 billion in healthcare costs, $636 million to $1 billion in lost tax revenue, and $96 million in law enforcement costs.
Recent events, such as the CERB handout, have shown the potential of a basic income to alleviate poverty and its associated problems. During the CERB period, we saw a significant reduction in crime rates, including a 16% decrease in break-ins, a 20% decrease in theft, an 18% decrease in robbery, a 36% decrease in shoplifting, and a 9% decrease in sexual assault.
The Green Party of Alberta believes that by implementing a basic income for all Albertans, poverty can be eradicated, which will reduce the need for costly bureaucratic support systems. This will not only improve the standard of living for all Albertans, but also stimulate the economy without increasing inflation or tax. A basic income for all will ensure that everyone has access to the basic necessities of life, which is a fundamental human right.
Properly fund and support a province-wide Housing First program:
The Green Party of Alberta is committed to providing housing for all Albertans, and we believe that the best way to achieve this is through a Housing First program. This program follows the successful Finnish model, which saves $21,000 per housed individual. It provides permanent, stable housing for individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This approach prioritizes housing as the first step towards improving the individual's overall health and wellbeing, and then provides necessary support services to address any underlying issues.
The program also focuses on preventing homelessness by offering early intervention services and financial assistance to those who are at risk of losing their housing. In addition, it provides outreach services to the homeless population, offering them a pathway to stable housing and support services.
Overall, the Finnish Housing First program has been highly successful, with over 80% of people who receive housing remaining housed and improving their quality of life. The program has also saved taxpayers money by reducing costs associated with emergency services, hospitals, and prisons.
Create rent control and affordable housing through government-subsidized non-profit/non-market housing options:
Rent control is a policy tool that aims to stabilize housing costs and provide tenants with more affordable rental rates. In Alberta, there is no rent control in place, which means landlords can increase rents as much as they want, which can create financial strain on renters, particularly those on fixed incomes or low incomes.
Rent control would help alleviate the financial burden on renters and provide more stability in the housing market. A rent cap of 1.5%, as proposed, would limit rent increases to a reasonable level, while still allowing landlords to cover their expenses and maintain a reasonable profit. This rate has been successfully implemented in other provinces such as British Columbia (before being walked back to 2% by the NDP) and would be a reasonable measure for Alberta to adopt.
Additionally, the public availability of eviction data can help protect tenant rights by providing transparency around landlord-tenant disputes. This data can inform policy decisions and help identify problematic landlords or housing conditions.
Lastly, the implementation of a Basic Income program would provide much-needed financial support to renters who are struggling to afford housing. By eliminating the waitlist for rental assistance, vulnerable populations would receive financial support to help cover their housing costs, reducing their risk of eviction and homelessness.
Affordable housing is a right, and everyone should have access to it. The Green Party of Alberta believes that non-profit and non-market housing options can ensure affordable rents or ownership in perpetuity. By utilizing government subsidies, these housing options can be made more affordable and accessible to all Albertans, regardless of their income.
Implement universal mental health care for Albertans:
The Green Party of Alberta is committed to ensuring that all Albertans have access to quality mental health care services. This includes providing services by qualified health care professionals and community health workers as part of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Mental health care services should be treated like any other health care service, and the Green Party of Alberta believes that access to these services should not be limited by income or social status.
Address the opioid and poison drug epidemic in Alberta:
The opioid and poison drug epidemic is a major public health crisis in Alberta, and the Green Party of Alberta is committed to addressing it. This can be achieved through the expansion of mobile mental health outreach and a province-wide harm reduction strategy utilizing supervised consumption services, syringe exchanges, and safe supply. This approach recognizes that addiction is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive and compassionate response.
DISASTERS ARE A POLICY FAILURE
In 2016, the Fort McMurray wildfire resulted in a total cost of $9.9 billion in direct and indirect damages. However, studies have shown that for every $1 spent on prevention, $15 can be saved in recovery costs. This means that if an investment of $660 million had been made in preventing the wildfire, the net savings could have been around $9.2 billion. Investing in prevention measures can not only save lives and property, but can also result in significant cost savings in the long run.
Healthy food, clean air and drinkable water are the building blocks of a thriving province and must be at the forefront of our political decision making. The GPA recognizes climate destabilization is increasing wildfire, flood and supply chain breakdowns for all Albertans and that we must prioritize our future.
As wildfires continue to be a threat to communities and property in Alberta, it's essential that we invest in the resources and tools necessary to protect our province. The following is our plan to reinvest in wildfire resilience:
Reinstate the Alberta Rapattack program: The rappelling program has proven to be an effective way to quickly respond to wildfires and prevent them from growing. By deploying firefighters from helicopters to the ground, we can attack fires when they're still small and prevent them from endangering communities and property.
Reopen and expand lookout positions: Fire lookout towers are critical in detecting fires early and allowing firefighters to respond quickly. By reopening and expanding lookout positions, we can reduce the time it takes to detect fires and prevent them from becoming larger and more dangerous.
Add an additional water tanker flight group to our fleet: Our air tanker program is aging and has decreased in size since 2014. It's time to invest in a new water tanker flight group to match the current risk and replace older aircraft. This will help protect our pilots and ensure that we have the resources we need to respond to wildfires.
- Bring back the funding program for rural firefighters: Rural fire departments often struggle to provide their volunteer firefighters with the tools and training they need to respond to fires safely and efficiently. By reinstating the provincial training grant and providing additional funding to help rural departments secure new tools and equipment, we can better support our volunteers and protect our communities.
In addition to the proposals outlined above, there are several other measures that need to be taken to reduce the risk of wildfires in the long-term:
Stop spraying glyphosate to kill fire-resistant aspen trees: The practice of spraying glyphosate to kill fire-resistant aspen trees is counterproductive and harmful to the environment. By preserving these trees, we can create natural firebreaks that can help prevent the spread of wildfires.
Increase prescribed burning practices through the utilization of Indigenous traditional knowledge: Prescribed burning is an effective way to reduce fuel loads and prevent the spread of wildfires. By incorporating Indigenous traditional knowledge and practices into these efforts, we can improve their effectiveness and create a more sustainable approach to wildfire management.
Amend our forest harvesting practices that leave behind high fuel load: Current forest harvesting practices can leave behind high fuel loads that increase the risk of wildfires. By amending these practices to reduce the amount of leftover debris, we can reduce the risk of wildfires and create a more sustainable approach to forest management.
It's important to note that these policy changes should be part of a broader effort to address climate change and environmental issues in the province. The Alberta government needs to take these issues seriously and work towards a more sustainable and responsible approach to managing our natural resources. By investing in renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting our environment, we can create a safer and more sustainable future for our province and its residents.
Protection of drinking water sources from privatization, development, mining, and toxic runoff:
Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right, and protecting our water sources from contamination is crucial. The GPA will work to ensure that water resources remain public and are not privatized or exploited for corporate gain. We will implement stronger regulations to prevent contamination from industries like mining and agriculture. Additionally, we will prioritize the remediation of contaminated sites, particularly in Indigenous communities where access to clean drinking water is disproportionately affected.
Province-wide initiatives to Create Drought Resilience for Rural and Urban Communities:
Alberta is no stranger to drought, and as the effects of climate change become more pronounced, it is critical that we take action to mitigate the impacts of water scarcity. The GPA will support the implementation of sustainable agriculture practices, such as regenerative farming, to improve soil health and water retention. We will also provide emergency funding and support to farmers impacted by drought and work to ensure food security for all Albertans.
Stop habitat loss to protect biodiversity and Immediately protect pollinators and keystone species:
Habitat loss is a major threat to biodiversity in Alberta, as it leads to the decline of important species and disrupts the delicate balance of ecosystems. Deforestation, urbanization, and industrial activities such as oil and gas development have all contributed to the loss of natural habitats in the province. The GPA recognizes the urgency of addressing this issue and will prioritize efforts to halt habitat loss. This includes implementing stronger regulations to protect natural areas and wildlife corridors, promoting sustainable land use practices, and supporting the restoration of degraded habitats.
In addition to addressing habitat loss, the GPA also recognizes the crucial role of pollinators and keystone species in maintaining healthy ecosystems. We must restrict the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides that contribute to the decline of pollinators, including bees and butterflies, which are essential for the reproduction of many plants, including those that produce the fruits and vegetables we rely on for our food supply. Keystone species, such as wolves and grizzly bears, play a critical role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems by controlling populations of other species and influencing the distribution of resources. They must be protected.
Create and protect local supply chain resilience for year-round food production:
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the vulnerabilities of our global food supply chains, and the GPA believes that local food production should be prioritized and protected. We will work with farmers, producers, and consumers to develop and strengthen local food systems that are resilient to external shocks. This will include promoting urban agriculture and more support for small-scale producers.
Ensure GHG emissions in Alberta peak before 2025:
Climate change is a global crisis, and we must take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The GPA recognizes that Alberta has a significant role to play in reducing Canada's emissions, and we will work to ensure that Alberta's emissions peak before 2025. This will include transitioning to renewable energy sources, reducing emissions and implementing proven measures outlined in the Drawdown Project to reduce emissions.
Work with all Indigenous Nations, municipalities and communities to protect and preserve prime agricultural land, watersheds and natural landscapes:
The GPA recognizes the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations and the importance of traditional land use practices. We will work with Indigenous communities to protect and preserve prime agricultural land, watersheds, and natural landscapes. We will also work with municipalities and communities to implement sustainable land use practices that prioritize conservation and protection of our natural resources.