Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Finance Minister Promises Reduced Deficits in Next Three Budgets

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Finance Minister Promises Reduced Deficits in Next Three Budgets

Article excerpt

Ceci promises reduced deficits in Alberta budgets

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EDMONTON - Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci says while he still doesn't have a new target date for balancing the books, the next three budgets will have smaller and smaller deficits.

"We're committed to achieving balance, for sure, and with budget 2016 you will see a three-year fiscal plan where the deficits are getting smaller each year," Ceci said in Grande Prairie on Thursday after a pre-budget consultation.

"(But) the dramatic drop in (oil) commodity prices makes this significantly more difficult."

He also promised to rein in spending.

"We'll spend smaller amounts in terms of the growth and we'll get there, but it is difficult to identify an exact date (to balance the budget)."

Ceci is to present the 2016-17 budget April 14.

He and Premier Rachel Notley have already signalled the numbers will be worse than predicted in last year's budget, which projected a $5.4-billion deficit in 2016-17, but also indicated a return to balance by 2020.

But last month, Ceci announced that with oil prices remaining in the doldrums, the revised deficit for 2016-17 would be $10.4 billion. He also said the 2020 date would not be met.

Notley and Ceci have already suggested that some program spending that was set to begin this year -- such as payments to reduce school fees -- has been deferred. …

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