Alberta’s budget from national and local POV

Provincial budget report cover
Photo Credit: Michael Franklin, CTV Calgary

On March 10, The Globe and Mail published an editorial praising Premier Redford’s “fiscal intelligence in practice.” This claim is a direct reference to Alberta’s recent provincial budget. I call bullshit. The Globe writes about the budget well; they’ve done their research. But they completely ignore one key fact that much of the media has neglected to mention in their coverage — the 6.8 per cent cut to post-secondary education. I can understand why the public relations representatives for the provincial government would try to hide this fact, but why isn’t the media having a field day with this information?

The Globe writes: “The provincial government’s projections on its own revenues and on energy prices are still not as cautious as they should be, but at any rate the problem of the narrowing market for Alberta oil and gas has been forthrightly acknowledged.” This external view on Alberta’s economy isn’t reflected here. Most Albertans like to ignore the impermanence of our oil royalties. The article calls for a more cautious budget, but more cuts isn’t the answer to the diminishing heritage fund. The idea of provincial sales tax isn’t mentioned in the article, but a commenter brings the idea up (somewhat ineloquently). A PST wouldn’t go over very well in Alberta, but I think if it were implemented now, the Tories would have three years before the next election to prove its benefits.

The biggest shock about Alberta’s provincial budget and the media’s coverage of it is the cuts to post-secondary funding. The University of Alberta received a 7.2 per cent cut to its funding, which came as a shock, according to an editorial in The Gateway, the university’s student newspaper.

April Hudson wrote in a feature for The Gateway: “the 2012 Budget promised institutions a two per cent increase each year over a three-year span — a reprieve after years of zero per cent increases. That two per cent was still not enough for the University of Alberta, which needs an annual four per cent increase to break even due to inflation.”

This is huge news for Albertans! What will happen to the quality of education the U of A can provide if its financial needs aren’t met? This is the kind of question that large publications like The Globe and Mail should be tackling.

A big issue in any media relations career is dealing with the slant your publication or superiors want you to put on your story. It appears like the writer of the Globe’s editorial wrote it under some duress. Something doesn’t feel right about a reputable publication overlooking facts to brownnose the Alberta government. Critics of student media often depreciate its value, citing a smaller scope of coverage and less access to sources than large media sources.

If we can glean anything from the examples set here by a university publication and a national news source, it’s that that notion is completely unfounded.

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4 Responses to Alberta’s budget from national and local POV

  1. Kaylee Yawney says:

    It’s scary to think about the amount of cuts that the budget took from post-secondary education. I think this almost guarantees that more money will be coming out of our pockets.

  2. Thomas D. Millar says:

    I used to write for the griff last year, and I don’t think all student media necessarily has the scope that the gateway demonstrated here. But I agree that the globe totally screwed the pooch on this coverage of Alberta’s budget.

  3. Jocelyn Herbert says:

    I think part of the problem is that people outside the student community dismiss student media as being irrelevant to them, even though that is not necessarily the case. Student journalism has the benefit of not being subject to some of the same pressures as “big media,” and I think you’ve hit on that here. Nice work.

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