A new online survey asks Albertans to identify spending reductions and revenue opportunities to address the financial challenges caused by low oil prices. Ideas are also invited on how to stabilize Alberta’s revenue over the longer term.
Low oil prices mean lower royalty revenue and less economic activity, and will result in a shortfall of approximately $7 billion in Budget 2015 if changes are not made. This represents a revenue loss of more than 15 per cent, and risks the economic strength of the province.
“This situation requires tough decisions from government and we want to hear from as many Albertans as possible. Albertans expect that government will find savings and tighten its own belt before examining any other option. Hearing and listening to Albertans’ comments is important as we transition to a long-term sustainable fiscal framework.”
Robin Campbell, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance
Ministers and MLAs have been talking about budget issues with Albertans at town hall meetings, Chamber of Commerce events, and on call-in shows. More than 1,500 Albertans have written and called to voice their ideas on how to reduce spending, increase revenue, deficits and debt.
As part of belt-tightening, cabinet ministers have taken a voluntary five per cent salary reduction and the Legislature’s Member Services Committee voted unanimously for all MLAs to follow suit. Further, the Alberta government is containing costs by restricting hiring, reducing travel, and limiting discretionary spending. All government departments have been ordered to examine their operations for cost savings, such as only printing reports that are required by legislation, restricting advertising and cutting sponsorships for conferences and events.
All government agencies, boards and commissions, including Alberta Health Services, post-secondary institutions and other publicly funded service providers have been asked to also contain spending and find cost savings.
The survey will remain posted at budget.alberta.ca until the end of February. Background information on Alberta’s fiscal situation and government revenues is also available online.