Canada Markets closed

NDP calls for immediate release of panel report on Alberta finances

EDMONTON — Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says a key report that was due this week on the province's finances should be released immediately.

Notley says a government-appointed panel is operating in secret and Albertans are not getting their say on what Premier Jason Kenney has promised will drive major decisions in the October budget.

Notley says Albertans need to see the report as soon as possible to have their voices heard before the numbers are locked in.

The panel, headed by former Saskatchewan finance minister Janice MacKinnon, was set up by Kenney to review Alberta's finances and suggest ways to make savings.

The United Conservative government now plans to release the report in early September after it's had a chance to review and respond to its findings.

Kenney has already said he expects the panel will conclude that Alberta's financial situation has deteriorated and that budget belt-tightening is needed.

The NDP says the report will be nothing more than predetermined political cover for Kenney when he introduces wage cuts or job cuts — or both — to public-sector workers this fall.

Alberta has been running multibillion-dollar deficits in recent years. Its debt stands at $57 billion and is projected to rise to $95 billion by 2024.

Kenney has already axed Alberta's consumer carbon tax and reduced corporate income tax. He has said it's the best way to spur business and job creation.

Notley says her caucus will travel around the province starting next month to hear from Albertans on what they want to see in the budget.

She said the NDP will also provide an alternative budget to the government's.

"Even though Mr. Kenney and his UCP appear unwilling to be talking to Albertans, we will," Notley said Tuesday.

"We will be travelling across the province to meet with Albertans about the budget, to hear their ideas about what is working, what is not working, and what the consequences of the kinds of cuts we've been hearing rumours about will be for them and their lives."

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press