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*NEWS EXCLUSIVE* Q & A with Little Bow NDP candidate

Posted on May 3, 2015 by Sunny South News

By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News

We asked Little Bow MLA candidates in the upcoming Alberta Election May 5 a few questions. Here are responses from NDP candidate Bev Muendel-Atherstone.

*What do you and/or the party believe to be the three most pressing issues
in the Little Bow riding? What are some solutions?

“The most pressing issue in this election is which party you can trust to
take Alberta out of the boom and bust cycle, while not destroying our
education, health care systems and our economic well-being.”

“You the voters have clearly seen the PC government relies heavily on
our oil resources. During boom times they have not diversified and during
bust times there is no money to do so. Neither do they listen to you, nor
value your opinions, as exemplified by Mr. Prentice ignoring his own poll in
which 70 per cent of Albertans told him to tax corporations to increase revenue. The
NDP listens to Albertans.”

*How can you and/or the party deliver the issues of your constituents to
the Alberta legislature better and more efficiently with solutions and
feedback to voters? Do you believe there is a disconnect between voters and
elected politicians?

“We need to have a compassionate government, that puts its citizens’ needs
first rather than that of big profitable corporations. We need to protect
and ensure quality education, accessible public health care, local long-term
care beds for our sick elderly, good jobs, clean air, water and land to
farm, access to irrigation water for crops and predictable funding for rural
municipalities. We need a government that listens and works locally with
municipalities, not one that makes its decisions in Edmonton and then blames
Albertans for its own mismanagement.”

“We would listen to Albertans by meeting with constituents in regards to local
issues and take these concerns back to the legislature.”

*Why should voters vote for you? Not, why voters should vote for the
party?

“I have a lifelong commitment to education and experience teaching from K
through to M.Ed., counselling privately and in schools, and working as a
school psychologist. Whatever I take on, whether paid or volunteer, I am
totally committed to following through, and I do it to my absolute best
— whatever it takes.”

*What innovative ideas do you and/or the party have in order for Alberta
to have a variety of revenue sources, so the province doesn’t rely mostly on
the gas and oil and agricultural industries?

“We are committed to bringing in new revenues through increasing the
corporate tax by a small 2 per cent to profitable large corporations on their
profits and to collecting the delinquent unpaid corporate taxes, which amount
to about $800 million. And we would institute a progressive income tax on
those making in excess of $125,000 per year — the other parties have copied this
plan in various forms.”

“We’ll ensure the benefits of better economic policies are more widely
shared, by increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018.
As our province’s finances recover, we’ll work to actively support economic
diversification in other sectors, including alternative energy (including
our proposed building retrofit loan fund), high tech, advanced research,
knowledge industries, film and television production, small Alberta brewing,
wind power, forestry, value-added agriculture, food processing and tourism.”

*Where do you and/or the party stand on taxes? A provincial sales tax?
Albertans paying health care premiums? Are there too many cuts to seniors
programs and care?

“The NDP would not institute a provincial sales tax, as that is a flat tax,
which unfairly penalizes low income earners. We would get rid of the health
care levy immediately, as it is a flat tax unfairly taxing families of four
about $1,000 per year. And yes, there have been and continue to be too many cuts
to seniors programs, in particular long-term care beds. The NDP would create
2,000 long-term care beds over the next four years helping to reduce wait times
for hospital beds.”

*What ideas do you and/or the party have on fixing rural health care
throughout the province, especially in Little Bow, including ambulance and
urgent care centres?

“Code Reds, which means no ambulance is available in an area, are
becoming all too common in Alberta, as a result of changes to an ambulance
system that was working. Ambulances need to be available when they are
needed.”

“Instead of taking $1 Billion from health care, the NDP would enhance the
funding to health care, utilizing the 600,000 square-feet sitting not being
used in our hospitals, while we have long lines for ER and surgeries are
being cancelled. We would ensure hospital infrastructure is built while
protecting the jobs of front-line workers.”

*What are your thoughts on infrastructure and education funding in the
province?

“Our education system is under assault by the PC government that does not
understand the concept of ‘best practice,’ which is education of our children
based on peer reviewed research ensuring the highest quality education to all
our children. Instead the PCs cut the funding to school boards resulting in
overcrowded classrooms and crumbling infrastructure in schools. In 2004-2005,
the PC government recommended smaller class sizes, in particular in primary
up to 17 students and upper elementary up to 23 students. Yet, now they are
going against their very own policies by refusing to allocate funds to
school boards for hiring more teachers and classroom assistants, when they
know there will be 12,000 additional students in each of the next three
years in Alberta. In addition, schools need ongoing maintenance, which an NDP
government supports.”

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