We won’t let our steady hand waver

By Joe Ceci, MLA for Calgary-Fort and President of the Treasury Board & Minister of Finance

Alberta has been going through worst recession in 40 years. Governments can respond in one of three ways. They can do nothing, and cross their fingers. They can panic and make a bad situation worse by imposing extreme cuts that further depress the economy - let’s call this the Wildrose option. Or governments can invest in jobs, diversify the economy and help families through the downturn. That’s the choice the Alberta government has made. As a result, we are coming through the recession with our schools intact, our hospitals serving patients, and our energy industry poised to grow again with a new pipeline to Canadian shores.

We will continue working to make life better for the everyday families that make this province run.

It’s true, the government chose to run deficits so we can protect families. It’s also true that we have brought down the growth in government spending and taken direct aim at waste. Just last week, I cut the salaries of top CEOs at government agencies and got rid of golf memberships, performance pay and other perks that were accepted practice in the past. We’ve also been working hard at turning down the tap at government spending. Over the last two years, we’ve been able to find more than $500 million in savings. And we are not done yet. Those savings, along with a new physician compensation agreement that saves an addition $500 million over the next two years, are just a few ways your government is creating a more sustainable path forward for Alberta.

Our economy is stabilizing, 18,000 new jobs have been created in last six months, and our energy industry is on more solid footing. Are we there yet? Far from it. Too many Albertans are still hurting.

The last thing we need right now is to take an axe to health care, education, and infrastructure spending and prolong the last two years of recession. We won’t let our steady hand waver. We will continue to invest in a strong Alberta. We will continue working to make life better for the everyday families that make this province run. And as the economy recovers, we will continue to bring down the deficit, thoughtfully and prudently.

First published in the Edmonton Sun. March 2, 2017.