Above: Minister Toews with members from the MacKinnon Panel. Front L-R Minister Toews, Janice MacKinnon. Back L-R Kim Henderson, Mike Percy, Dave Mowat. – GOA photo
A $3.7 million annual surplus is possible is Alberta were to match the average spending of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, Canada’s largest three provinces. That was part of the findings of the MacKinnon Panel on Alberta’s Finances.
The report, released Tuesday, indicates following Canada’s big three would reduce provincial spending by $10.4 billion per year. The MacKinnon Panel showed that Alberta’s spending per capita is Canada’s highest; something that predates the previous NDP government’s time by 16 years.
The report indicates Alberta’s debt increased from $13 billion to $60 billion over the past for years and is on track to exceed $100 billion in just four years. Without a course correction, debt interest would grow from $1.9 billion per year to $3.7 billion per year.
“I would like to thank the panel for their report. It’s clear Alberta’s spending is out of control and must be brought back in line,” said Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board Travis Toews. “Our government was elected to balance the budget and what we have learned from this report furthers our commitment to making that happen and getting Alberta back on track.”
The MacKinnon Report compared government spending several areas, including health, education, and advanced education.
The panel’s recommendations can be found online at https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/mackinnon-panel-report.pdf. They include:
– Using more private or not-for-profit facilities instead of hospitals for day procedures.
– In education, work with education stakeholders to decrease the percentage of government funding that goes to administration and governance (currently 24 .6%) to a level comparable to British Columbia (17%).
– Establish a legislative mandate that sets the salary levels for all public sector employees, including all fees and other compensation for insured medical and health services and all third parties, and applies to all negotiations and arbitrations . In the event of a strike, the mandate would form the basis for back- to-work legislation .
– Examine the government’s legislative framework for capital funding to municipalities with the goals of “aligning funding to provincial goals and priorities and fiscal capacity, while further considering funding formulas that require municipalities to share more in the costs of major projects.”
“Raising taxes is not the answer,” siad Chair Janice MacKinnon. “Alberta has a spending problem, and the government needs to act quickly and decisively to reduce its spending. The province needs to go beyond merely cutting spending to transform the way programs and services are delivered.”
The UCP say they will use report information in planning Budget 2019 to be tabled this fall.