Today, Alberta Finance Minister, Travis Toews, introduced his first budget under the new United Conservative Government and he projected an $8.7 Billion deficit for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Minister Toews also announced plans to reduce spending over the next 4 years by 2.8% or – $1.3 Billion below 2018-2019 fiscal year spending levels – in order to balance the provincial budget by 2022-2023. To achieve these savings, the government plans include a reduction in the size of the public service by 7.7% over 4 years, freezing education funding until 2022 and eliminating certain programs such as the previous government’s Climate Leadership Plan – which includes returning the Climate Change Office to being part of the Alberta Environment & Parks. Read the full budget speech.
In advance of today’s budget, on Wednesday, Premier Kenney addressed Albertans on TV and laid the groundwork for the budget by indicating that Alberta has a spending problem and as a result, they will need to reduce spending to get Alberta’s per capita spending in line with other provinces such as Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Premier Kenney indicated that spending reductions would come from a variety of program cuts, program amalgamations and staffing reductions (mostly through not replacing retirees). Minister Toews’ budget today provided the details.