With much fanfare, Alberta’s UCP government has appointed the Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s finances to recommend a path to balance its budget. Unfortunately, the entire project is compromised from the outset because the panel’s mandate ties one of its hands behind its back.
Budgets have two components: revenue and expenses. However, the panel’s mandate specifically excludes any consideration of changes necessary to the way our government generates revenue — which means that its job is restricted to recommending cuts to Alberta’s public services.
The revenue shortage is a problem that will continue until our provincial government takes significant steps to solve it. There are really only two ways it can be fixed: either raise substantially more revenue, or make massive cuts to public services. Ralph Klein’s government took the latter approach to the extreme by cutting $3 billion from public services. In many ways, the province has still not recovered.Read more