Premier Jason Kenney speaks to the media in Edmonton, Alberta, on Tuesday Oct. 22, 2019. Kenney says if the prime minister doesn’t keep his word on supporting the West, there will be lasting damage to national unity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

Premier Jason Kenney speaks to the media in Edmonton, Alberta, on Tuesday Oct. 22, 2019. Kenney says if the prime minister doesn’t keep his word on supporting the West, there will be lasting damage to national unity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

Alberta UCP government to table first budget, warns of program spending cuts

Alberta’s debt is approaching $60 billion and is on track to hit $96 billion by 2023

The Alberta government is to table a budget today that will cut program spending by nearly three per cent.

The budget is the first under Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government since it defeated the NDP in the spring election.

Kenney said in a TV address last night that it will not be an easy budget, but it’s necessary to end a run of deficits and spiralling debt.

He says the impact on public service jobs will be modest, as the overall size of government will be reduced mainly through attrition.

He says some capital projects will be delayed or scaled back and that inefficient programs will get less money or may be scrapped.

Kenney gave few other details but did say that health and education funding will not be reduced.

Alberta’s debt is approaching $60 billion and is on track to hit $96 billion by 2023.

The UCP commissioned a panel chaired by former Saskatchewan NDP finance minister Janice MacKinnon to review Alberta’s finances.

It reported back in August that Alberta is a big public spender and needs to save money through reorganized service delivery.

It recommended changing how programs are funded in health, education and public-sector salaries.

The Canadian Press