Posted on Feb 26, 2018

Investing in Alberta and finding efficiencies

It has been a tough couple years in Alberta‘s economy, with the plummeting price of oil in 2015 leaving a lot of red ink on the government‘s books.

When the NDP government took power in May of that year, there were hard choices that had to be made. I’m proud to have supported several budgets that protected key public services like health and education, while rejecting opposition calls for reckless and painful cuts.

I’m also proud of the major investments made in this province, addressing historic infrastructure gaps while also making targeted investments to help lift Alberta out of the worst recession we’ve seen in a generation.

And make no mistake, the plan is working.

Countless economic indicators are moving in the right direction, and respected economists are predicting Alberta will lead the country in economic growth for 2018. What’s more important than the statistics and indicators, though, is that Albertans are getting back to work.And as the economy  continues to recover, we can expect to see the recovery reaching more and more of my constituents in West Yellowhead.

But while we were making the investments to protect the services Albertans rely on - and the front-line workers like teachers and nurses who provide them - we were also taking significant steps to rein in expenses and find efficiencies within government bodies. A Postmedia editorial recently highlighted this government‘s success in spending just $3.8 million on travel and hospitality expenses, which is just a fraction of the $28 million the previous government spent in 2013.

We have also cut the salaries and eliminated bonuses for the highest-paid executives of Alberta‘s agencies, boards and commissions, and in some cases, have consolidated and streamlined their roles. This will save us $33 million per year. We extended a salary freeze for management and non-union employees in the public sector, saving us $29 million per year, and hiring restraint has saved us a total of $107 million since 2015.

We’re in the process of consolidating corporate services, which is expected to save us approximately $20 million each year. Through all our measures and the NDP carefully and responsibly finding ways to reduce spending, our government found savings of nearly $750 million in 2017. And we will continue to find savings in the coming years, without firing thousands of teachers and nurses.

Premier Rachel Notley and Finance Minister Joe Ceci have indicated that we should expect some restraint in this year’s budget, and the Government of Alberta has been actively consulting with Albertans about what services need to be protected and where we can find more efficiencies.

I would like to hear from my constituents on this, and welcome your feedback. You can contact me at West.Yellowhead@assembly.ab.ca, or contact my office at 780-865-9796.

First published Feb. 26, 2018, in the Hinton Parklander.