OPINION – Wildrose Party releases 10-point common sense budget recommendations

Wildrose Party
News release

Ensuring the sustainability of front line services, eliminating waste and saving the province just over $2 billion dollars are the three key principles that guide the 10-point common sense plan in the Wildrose Budget Sustainability Recommendations released today by the Wildrose Official Opposition.

Wildrose Shadow Finance Minister Derek Fildebrandt was joined at today’s announcement (April 12) by Wildrose Shadow Jobs Minister Grant Hunter and Wildrose Shadow Economic Diversification Minister Prasad Panda.

Highlights of the report include:
. Saving through attrition: hiring freeze for government workers;
. Holding the line: no increases on wages or positions for the rest of the public sector beyond hiring new teachers;
. Implementing effective Results Based Budgeting recommendations and conducting a program review targeting savings;
. Improving efficiencies and reducing bureaucratic red tape; and,
. Ensuring the Auditor General is fully utilized, including implementing previous recommendations.

The Wildrose plan is aimed at reducing overall expenditures and providing the foundation for a return to balanced budgets after eight deficits run by five different PC and NDP premiers.

“If we don’t begin to restore fiscal stability to our province, it means ballooning interest payments will take money away from schools, hospitals, teachers and nurses,” Fildebrandt said. “These recommendations are a strong first step in addressing the core problem of bloated spending by both the previous PC and current NDP governments, while ensuring the sustainability of the front line services Albertans rely on.”

The NDP government currently has no timeline to balance the budget, and is in fact planning to increase spending again this year despite being on course to run a $10 billion deficit and put Alberta roughly $50 billion in debt by 2019.

“Our 10-point plan is reasonable, realistic and common sense,” Fildebrandt said. “Real and urgent action is needed now to get expenditures under control before more drastic action is required later. When we are in a $10.5 billion budget hole, the first thing we should do is stop digging. The Wildrose recommendations propose to do just that.”

Other recommendations include:
. Lowering interest payments through decreased borrowing;
. Reducing Government of Alberta travel by 50 per cent;
. Reducing bureaucratic red tape; and,
. Creating a website so Albertans can discreetly identify waste and fraud.

Quick Facts
. Alberta has a 5:1 worker-to-manager ratio: with eight to 10 per cent of employees quitting or retiring each year, substantial savings can be had through attrition, not layoffs;
. Ontario’s Auditor General identified nearly $100 million in overspending in a value-for-money audit released in December 2015;
. Red tape costs on businesses have grown by over $1 billion in the past decade;
. Alberta government ministries spent $28 million on travel alone in 2014;
. The final round of Results Based Budgeting challenge panels concluded last fall: a total of 20 per cent of the 650 recommendations had savings attached;
. According to Budget 2015, Alberta will spend $1.3 billion per year on debt servicing costs by 2019.

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