Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP government is pushing back its balanced budget promise by a full year.
During the spring provincial election campaign, the NDP promised a lots of spending but said that it would see the province balance its books by 2018-19. That was to be a full year after the Wildrose and PC opposition party promises. Today however, Finance Minister Joe Ceci announced that the provincial government has changed course. Ceci mentioned that global markets have forced the government to plan for a balanced budget in 2019-20.
“Continued low oil prices are putting particular pressure on us here in Alberta,” commented Ceci. “Our budget being introduced next week gets us working again and puts us on the path to long term economic growth and stability but like Albertans, the government’s treasury is facing significant pressures and our government has faced difficult choices these past months.”
“We’re aiming to be back in black in year 2019-20, a year later than we outlined in our platform this past spring…it’s going to take a little longer to reach balance than outlined earlier.”
Ceci also blamed the “failure” of previous PC governments to save and diversify provincial revenue streams.
The Wildrose party was quick to pounce on the broken promise.
“This is the NDP breaking their single most important campaign promise of balancing the budget before the end of their mandate,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “Thousands of Albertans are taking a hard look at their spending during the economic downturn, and the NDP need to do the same. We have doubts that the NDP is serious about balancing the budget.”
“During the election campaign the NDP first claimed they would balance the budget by 2017. Then they realized their math was wrong and they revised their target to 2018. Now it has become 2019,” Wildrose Shadow Minister Derek Fildebrandt said. “This government is not demonstrating the resolve and leadership needed to balance expenditures and revenues.”
Fildebrandt said the timing of the NDP government’s announcement had little to do with serving the best interests of Albertans.
“It shows what Albertans have known for months – all bad news was being postponed in a failed attempt to prop up the federal NDP,” Fildebrandt said. “The only thing that we know today that we didn’t know three months ago – or one week ago – is that Tom Mulcair won’t be Prime Minister. Delaying the budget and this announcement was meant to serve Mulcair’s interests, not Albertans’.”
The Alberta NDP will table its budget next Tuesday, October 27.