Second bad-news budget update must be a wake up call for finance minister

Author: Franco Terrazzano 2020/11/24

CALGARY, AB: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on Alberta’s Finance Minister Travis Toews to reprioritize belt-tightening.

“The dismal fiscal update needs to be a wake up call for Toews to tighten the belt on government spending,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the CTF. “It’s been months since the first bad-news budget update, but we haven’t seen Toews get serious about fixing the government’s spending and debt problem.”

The mid-year budget update forecasts a $21.3-billion deficit, with the debt expected to reach $97.4 billion by the end of the fiscal year. The interest costs on the debt are expected to be $2.4 billion this year, which is more than $500 per Albertan.

The Alberta government has the highest per-person spending in Canada, according to the Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s finances. The panel also found that Alberta would spend $10.4 billion less every year if its per-person spending was in line with British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

While overall non-COVID-19 operating spending is lower than budget projections, departments such as Advanced Education, Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Parks, Service Alberta and Transportation are all projecting higher operating spending than what was included in the 2020 budget.

“We shouldn’t see multiple non-health-care departments increasing their spending. Many families and businesses have been cutting back on nice-to-haves, and the government needs to do the same,” said Terrazzano. “Toews has to do a better job saving money and reducing spending because struggling Albertans can’t afford higher taxes.”

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