As Alberta's deficit continues to grow, political pundits and economists have much to say about the cause and effect of the province's financial woes.
According to a recognized expert at the University of Alberta, Alberta is the highest-spending province in Canada. A major blunder has been the financing of all this spending in an irresponsible fashion. The primary funding source has been income from the province's non-renewable natural resources. Non-renewable indicates that the income will stop flowing when the resources are no longer present.
A recent statement issued by the Canadian Taxpayers Association calls upon the province to cut its spending immediately. While the province intends to finance its deficit from emergency savings funds, this will literally wipe out these funds, leaving nothing out aside for a "rainy day."
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has stated unequivocally that he has no intention of raising taxes, nor does he intend to cut jobs from the province's payrolls. Moreover, he has announced that the province intends to move forward with $20 billion in building projects planned for the next five years. The province's population has grown by more than one million residents in the last two decades. More schools and hospitals are needed as well as assisted living facilities for a growing elderly population.
While numerous companies in the private sector, facing financial hardships, have worked with their employees to take a rollback in wages rather than face job loss, the province's employee unions have yet to be approached officially to discuss wage concessions. Considerable savings to provincial spending could be realized by coming to agreements with the province's 21,000 employees.
The provincial leadership has been rather reticent about necessary cost-cutting measures. Experts feel that residents may not take kindly to having surprises revealed at the last minute. Recovery may take several years but few feel that it will happen without specific government intervention.
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