EDMONTON – The Alberta government says it wants to hear from the public before it finishes the upcoming budget.
Consultations are to include invitation-only meetings this month in nine communities as well as a phone-in meeting involving Premier Rachel Notley.
Finance Minister Joe Ceci says there will be no new major spending in the financial plan that is expected to be tabled in March.
The government, still faced with soft oil prices, is looking for ideas on how it can control and cut spending without affecting key programs.
“We will continue to slow the rate of spending by finding efficiencies in government, but we need your help in doing so,” Ceci said Monday.
“I’ll be asking them what choices should we make as a government to control spending.”
Ceci said the government is still forecasting a $10.8-billion deficit for the current fiscal year that ends March 31.
A Finance Department spokesman said members of the legislature have been tasked with inviting people to attend the meetings to be held in Edmonton, Stony Plain, Vegreville, Grande Prairie, Fairview, Red Deer, Redwater, Calgary and Medicine Hat.
The meetings will not be open to the general public.
Telephone phone-in meetings are to be held Jan. 30 and 31.
Ceci said people are also being urged to submit their budget ideas to the government online until Feb. 3.
In the government’s last budget update, Ceci said new jobs were being created and Alberta’s housing market was stabilizing. But real GDP for the current fiscal year is expected to fall by 2.8 per cent due mainly to the effects of the Fort McMurray wildfire last spring.
Ceci said in November that the government expects the economy to rebound in the coming fiscal year and grow by 2.3 per cent.