CORRECTION: The original version of this story included a misquoted statement about AISH from MLA Toews. We apologize for the error and the confusion. We have reached out to MLA Toews to clarify the matter.
Grande Prairie- Wapiti MLA, Minister of Finance Travis Toews insists Alberta must fall more in line with other provinces in terms of spending numbers. Toews says after the damage caused both by the pandemic and the oil price crash, Alberta can no longer afford to spend copious amounts more on services than its neighbours.
“The reality is, Alberta has been an outlier in terms of our costs per capita to deliver government services. The Mackinnon Panel pointed that out in their report to us which we received just over a year ago and that really informed budget 2019,” he says.
“Now, in terms of getting to balance in year four with the new economic environment, that’s very, very unlikely. Getting to balance will almost certainly have to be delayed.”
Toews explains the original plan set out in 2019 to reduce government spending is still intact, citing that increasing efficiencies is especially important now over last year. He adds all external sectors may have to go under the microscope, though did not commit to “finding efficiencies,” internally.
He says Albertans, especially at home, could empathize with the difficulties of cutting spending.
“Curbing spending down, in general, is always difficult. I know even from a business standpoint, I think most Albertans as they manage their household budgets would agree that turning spending down is always a challenge, however, in this province I believe we have no choice.
“COVID-19 has changed everything, it’s certainly changed our revenue projections very significantly and the number one job there in terms of revenue restoration is economic recovery and economic growth.”
The provincial deficit projection for the current year will see approximately $24 billion.