ALBERTA

Alberta Government Seeks Public Input For First Budget

07/30/2015 06:30 EDT | Updated 07/30/2015 06:59 EDT
CP

EDMONTON — Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci is casting a wide net for input into the NDP government's first budget.

He says Albertans can visit the province's budget website (budget.alberta.ca) for the next six weeks to provide ideas and comments.

He also says that he plans to meet with businesses and organizations over the next two months to discuss how to diversify the economy and protect public services.

Cabinet ministers are to meet with stakeholders such as the agriculture, forestry and energy industries, the non-profit sector and aboriginal leaders.

Ceci says feedback is necessary to help him craft a budget for this year and next that will reflect the priorities of all Albertans.

Premier Rachel Notley has said the budget is to be delivered in October.

"I want to hear Albertans' thoughts and ideas on how the government can improve their quality of life and build our economy,'' Ceci said in a release Thursday.

The finance minister will be working with more than $1 billion in surplus cash from the 2014-15 budget year when the Progressive Conservatives were still in government.

But he has indicated that challenges lie ahead as the current fiscal year will be the first full reporting period with oil selling at drastically lower prices.

The Tories introduced a budget March 26, but lost to the NDP in the May 5 election before it passed.

The Notley government has since passed a bill to keep $18.5 billion in government money flowing. It has also announced hundreds of millions in new spending to cover higher class size enrolment and more money for health care and social programs.

Notley has said that she expects the October budget will include a $5.4-billion deficit projected by the NDP during the election.