Premier Rachel Notley and Finance Minister Joe Ceci spoke with local business leaders and non-profits this morning as they held a pre-budget consultation in Grande Prairie. The Alberta budget is set to be released last month, with a projected $10.4 billion dollar shortfall.
In last fall’s budget, the plan was to balance the books by 2019, but Ceci says that’s no longer the plan. Speaking in Grande Prairie, he maintains they’re still committed to getting back in the black, but there just isn’t as hard of a timeline anymore.
“With budget 2016, that’ll come out, you’ll see a fiscal plan where the deficits are getting smaller each year, and we’re committed to doing that; the dramatic drop in commodity prices makes this significantly more difficult.”
The province is increasing spending by about 2.8 per cent, the rate of inflation plus population growth. Notley defends the spending plans, saying they want to keep it predictable and table, without a knee-jerk drawback when the province is going through what she calls “the single biggest shock it’s probably experienced in several decades.”
“We need to be able to give them predictability, and that’s one of the things we’re talking about here is we’re going to adopt a reasonable pace of growth, and we are going to stick to it, and people can count on that and that’s what they’ve told us they want.”
Notley also attended Mayor Bill Given’s State of the City address, and wrapped up her tour of the Swan City with stops at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum and the Westgate Fire Station. She’ll spend the evening in Falher at a fundraiser.