Voters again had a chance to hear from all provincial candidates running in Lethbridge-West at an event hosted by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce. The forum alternated between questions from a media panel and the audience and focused largely on business, healthcare and education.
All the questions had to be posed to specific candidates, who had one minute to answer, and each had two chances to respond to rebut other candidates.
One member of the audience asked UCP candidate Cheryl Seaborn what her party would do to address rising costs for post-secondary students and incentivize them to come to Alberta and stay in the province to work, rather than going to school elsewhere.
“We have comparatively to the other universities in Alberta, we have underfunded per students here in Lethbridge and that needs to be addressed and certainly MLA Neudorf and I have had many conversations about having to ensure that we are representing Lethbridge in that way, to ensure that Lethbridge I better funded for their university,” Seaborn said. “We are now offering bonuses for people to stay, we are offering tax breaks for people to stay to help them with of course, their costs of staying.” She added the UCP worked to increase seats at the university for nursing.
Liberal Party candidate Pat Chizek used one of her opportunities for rebuttal to weigh in on education. She said her party has a policy to encourage Albertans to go to school and work in the province through tuition reimbursement.
“We have got to help them some way. The second thing we are talking about thinking about is —universities need a lot of money to run so rather than making cuts and making students pay for it out front, maybe, this is just a maybe, it is not a finalized policy — but it’s people like to donate money and they like to donate to the university or college that they went to. If we could get a better tax write off for those to donate to the university,” she said.
Another member of the audience questioned NDP candidate Shannon Phillips on why her party wants to defund private education.
“Private and charter school receive about 70 per cent of the per student operating grant that is received from public schools, which is of course our public, Catholic and Francophone schools — that has not changes. This was an approach that we inherited from the Progressive Conservative government before us, we did not change it. It has not changed since that time. We have indicated that there will be no change going forward,” Phillips said. “We will fund enrollment growth wherever it occurs, whether it is in the independent, charter or private schools or whether it is in the public, Catholic or Francophone system and we will make sure that there are trained teachers in those systems.”
Election day is on May 29. Find profiles on local candidates here:
Lethbridge-East NDP candidate focusing on how policy affects individuals
Lethbridge-West UCP candidate focused on healthcare, economy
Phillips focusing on healthcare, economy, and leadership
Neudorf focusing on affordability, jobs and healthcare
Alberta Liberal candidate for Lethbridge-West hopes to see new voices in government