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Alberta's $600 Million Spending Problem Means Student Grants Could Be Slashed

The government spending report was released today.
Alberta's $600 Million Spending Problem Means Student Grants Could Be Slashed

A panel group created by the United Conservative Party (UCP) just Alberta's new budget report saying Alberta has a spending problem. The report is meant to advise the provincial government on how they can keep their campaign promises without raising taxes.

The chair of the Mackinnon panel was former Saskatchewan finance minister Janice Mackinnon. The report is meant to help form Alberta's fall budget which is expected to be released in a month.

"Raising taxes is not the answer, Alberta has a spending problem and the government needs to act quickly and decisively to reduce its spending,” Mackinnon advised in a media release on Tuesday.

According to the report Alberta needs to go beyond simple budget cuts and readjust the way programs and services are delivered. It recommends changing the advanced education system, meaning post-secondary institutes, where Alberta spends more when compared to other provinces. The panel recommendation here is to spend less on government grants for students and allow them to find other options for funding post-secondary education. The report says the province has fewer students and more spending.

The report also suggest changes in the healthcare spending budget by reducing the wages and still utilizing the full skills of doctors and nurses to match the other provinces in the country. Mackinnon said the health care budget represents an example of Alberta spending more but getting less. She also advised that day procedures should be moved into clinics to reduce the overall costs and help change the long waiting times in the province. Alberta should utilize more private and non-profit programs to healthcare.

“Our main findings should be of concern to all Albertans, we found that without bold change, Albertans face a future of raising deficit and debt with more and more tax dollars going to interest rather than programs," said Mackinnon in the media release.

The Mackinnon report includes 26 recommendations to reduce the provincial capital spending by $600 million by introducing cuts to healthcare and education budgets.

The report found that if Alberta spent the same as the other three similar provinces, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, Alberta would spend $10.4 billion less annually and would not have a deficit. 

The UCP government will release the fall budget for the province within a few weeks, finalizing the budget reductions.

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