Finance Minister Joe Ceci and Minister of Energy Marg McCuaig-Boyd are in Grande Prairie and Fairview today to take part in budget consultations. Ceci has already been to three other Alberta cities, and says with the province in the second year of a recession, he’s hearing a common theme.
“People, understandably, are interested in how the government of Alberta’s going to support job development, support development of the economy by diversification, so they bring those issues to the table. It gives me the opportunity to say what we’re doing.”
Ceci adds that 2017 is looking up, with more oil and gas investment and an increase in other exports.
“We see positive growth in our gross domestic product of 2.4 per cent, which is welcome news; that means that there’ll be more investment, more people getting back to work, but the challenge is there that we’ve taken a big hit for two years and that’s the first time in a generation.”
The province is facing a project $10.8 billion deficit for 2016-2017, but revenue brought in from the carbon levy won’t help. McCuaig-Boyd says all the money collected will be reinvested and won’t go into general revenue. She adds that the province started seeing the benefits of the new tax almost immediately, leading to the approval of two pipeline projects.
“Right after we announced our climate change plan, I was in some events in Calgary with industry, and they said they couldn’t believe in the first couple weeks after that how the pipeline conversation changed federally, and now we’ve seen the result from that.”
While the local meetings were closed to the public, people can have their say online until February 3rd and through a telephone town hall for northern Alberta on January 30th.