Health and education are expected to be spared, but Albertans can expect a near three per cent cut when the province unveils today’s budget.
In a TV address Wednesday night, Alberta Premier Jason Kenny said the change is necessary.
“These are necessary decisions. In fact, I would argue that they are long overdue. We must embrace transformative change to get a smarter government. That’s not going to happen overnight,” Kenney said.
Kenney wasn’t specific about where the cuts would come but did hint that some capital projects may be scaled back. He also said that some inefficient programs would also be trimmed or scuttled completely.
It’s unclear at this point what that could mean for projects like Calgary’s Green Line LRT project. The province has committed $1.5 billion for the $5 billion transit plan, but Premier Jason Kenney has commented in the past about the city having to reduce the length of the line already to fit within that budget.
Alberta ran a $6.7-billion deficit in the fiscal year ending in March on just over $48 billion in operational spending.
The debt is nearing $60 billion and was projected to reach $96 billion by 2023.
“If we don’t act decisively now, we will face far bigger challenges in the future,” Kenney said.
Kenney and the UCP are operating with the MacKinnon report, released in August, as their basic roadmap for making the budget changes.
But NDP leader Rachel Notley said that their plan isn’t working so far and these cuts will hurt Albertans.
“You can’t make these kinds of cuts without major drops in front-line services,” said Notley.
Alta finance minister puts on cowboy boots
UCP finance minister Travis Toews continued the tradition of slipping on footwear that represents what the budget will mean for Albertans. He chose cowboy boots.
“To me, these boots represent a part of our heritage and speak to the practical and resilient character of Albertans. We owe it to them to be thoughtful, measured and balanced in our approach to budgeting. I am committed to fighting for Albertans by ending overspending and by living within our means,” Toews said in a prepared release.
“Tomorrow’s budget is an important day for all Albertans and I believe it’s not necessary to spend money on a new pair of shoes. This is not the time for wasteful spending on non-essentials. Budget 2019 is about learning to live within our means.”
The budget is expected to be tabled in the Alberta Legislature Thursday at 3:15 p.m.