Alberta throne speech promises smarter spending, more jobs

Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s government has opened its pre-election spring sitting of the legislature with a throne speech promising smarter spending.

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s government has opened its pre-election spring sitting of the legislature with a throne speech promising smarter spending.

“It’s time for foundational change,” Lt.-Gov. Don Ethell read Tuesday from the speech, which promised smarter spending through zero-based budgets and predictable funding.

“It won’t be easy, but it is the right way to better manage the annual unpredictability in the budgeting process.

“Alberta’s current fiscal framework relies too heavily on volatile energy revenue as a source of income.”

The speech from the throne outlines the plans and priorities a government has for the upcoming session and beyond.

Ethell reiterated that the government will phase in zero-based budgeting over the next three years to keep program spending on track. Deputy premier Doug Horner announced last week that proposed legislation to that effect will be introduced as Bill 1 during the sitting.

Such budgeting means politicians and their officials don’t simply add or subtract from existing line items. Rather, the entire budget from the year before is scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up to make sure all spending matches stated goals.

Fiscal conservatives such as the Wildrose party and the Alberta Liberals say zero-based budgeting is the way to go, but don’t believe Redford’s Conservatives, with their recent string of deficit budgets, are not the ones to do it.

The NDP says zero-based budgeting will be a stalking horse to slash programs and privatize jobs.

Ethell announced other initiatives to manage an economy that is growing but also putting strains on programs and services.

He announced the government will be “enhancing” post-secondary institutions to increase the number of highly skilled workers. There is to be a strategy to recruit more students from Metis and First Nations communities.

There are also plans for improvements on the health front. Multidisciplinary teams of health professionals are to help patients in family-care clinics in three pilot projects to start this spring.

“Patients in need of medical attention will be able to get it quickly and easily at publicly funded clinics close to home,” read Ethell.

Local health advisory councils are to get a greater say on front-line care in their communities.

And a new northern development strategy is to help that region’s programs and infrastructure keep pace with the rapid growth of the oilsands.

“The North is the source of much of our prosperity, so success there is critical for a successful Alberta,” said Ethell.

The government also promised renewed partnership with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, including work on a shared national energy plan.

Redford has said she wants to implement a national strategy so that regions and the federal government are working as one to effectively produce and market resources to customers around the globe.

“Your government will actively design initiatives to access global markets and assist Canadians and our trading partners in understanding Alberta’s energy goals.”

The current session will be the last before a general election.

The 2012-13 budget is to be presented by Finance Minister Ron Liepert on Thursday. Redford has said that once it is passed, she will drop the writ soon after. That would put the start of the 28-day campaign in mid-March with polling day in April.

Just Posted

Rimbey-area landowner believes earthquake damaged his electricity supply

Underground line was damaged at same time quake hit, says landowner

Open call for musicians to play Ross Street Patio Parties in Red Deer

The City of Red Deer is inviting musicians from various different cultural… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House citizens recognized in awards show

Mayor’s Recognition Awards handed out in ceremony last Friday

Red Deer monitoring creeks during spring melt

Residents advised to use common sense when approaching ice

Businesses worry about pricey budget promises

Alberta businesses are bracing for expensive promises the federal and provincial governments… Continue reading

WATCH: Celebrating francophone Canadians at the 10th annual Red Deer Winter Carnival

The event was hosted by the Red Deer region of the French-Canadian Association of Alberta Saturday

Family: Time to shed winter clothes and inhibitions

It has been a long, crazy cold winter. But, if the thermometer… Continue reading

Chelsea Carey rink registers two wins at world women’s curling event

SILKEBORG, Denmark — Canada’s Chelsea Carey rebounded nicely Sunday at the world… Continue reading

Canadian Bianca Andreescu has her first WTA title, winning BNP Paribas Open

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Canadian Bianca Andreescu has her first WTA title.… Continue reading

‘Captain Marvel’ soars even higher with stellar 2nd weekend

LOS ANGELES — “Captain Marvel” has continued to dominate the global box… Continue reading

Budget to focus on affordable housing changes on supply, demand, regulation

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government will take steps in Tuesday’s federal budget… Continue reading

Kenney lieutenant denies running ‘puppet’ candidate in party leadership race

EDMONTON — The staffer at the centre of a spreading scandal over… Continue reading

RCMP find ammunition, machete after searching for ATV reported stolen

FROG LAKE, Alta. — Police say they found 600 rounds of ammunition… Continue reading

Most Read