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September 4, 2019

Varcoe: Alberta must take some tough medicine to balance its books, MacKinnon panel says

Like a gambler on a losing streak, Alberta has posted deficits in nine of the past 10 years and watched its financial position slide by almost $60 billion, while running the highest per-person spending of any provincial government in Canada.

How on earth can an energy-fuelled province in the midst of an economic slump balance its budget books in four short years and pay off its entire debt in 25 years?

report released Tuesday by a blue-ribbon panel examining the province’s finances says the feat is possible, but will require taking some bitter medicine, such as freezing expenditures for four consecutive years and cutting at least $600 million out of annual operating spending.

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“Albertans can see how out of line our spending is with other provinces, and we’ve been paying for a Mercedes and in many instances been getting a Buick,” added Adam Legge, president of the Business Council of Alberta.

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