Janice MacKinnon, a former Saskatchewan finance minister, and chair of a blue-ribbon panel looking into the province’s finances explains the report’s findings last week as Premier Jason Kenney listens.
Image credit: Greg Southam/SunMedia
MLA David Hanson gave his take on the Blue Ribbon Panel report on Alberta’s Finances.
Also known as the MacKinnon report, last week the UCP’s comprehensive review on how money is spent in the province came with much fanfare and detractors as the provincial government eyes balancing the budget by 2022-23.
Among the 26 recommendations from the report was transforming the health system by using other provinces as models, limit the increasing cost of physician services by providing incentives for physicians to move to alternative payment plans and renegotiating the agreement with the Alberta Medical Association, and reviewing and revising the K-12 education funding formula.
“I’m not really surprised too much by the report because we looked at the way the finances were going over the past four years. $1.8 billion I think it was in interest payments alone increasing to up to $3.4 billion in the next couple years,” said Hanson on The Alberta Legislature.
“That’s $3.4 billion that has to come from somewhere right off the top, so it won’t be going to all of our frontline services and schools. At some point we have to turn the ship around and get away from paying all those interest payments,” he said.
The UCP government is set to release a budget in October with some fearing that spending cuts could be on the way.
“It’s going to be tough decisions to be made. Not saying I’m looking forward to the new budget, but I understand it will be coming out late in October,” said Hanson.
The MacKinnon Report eluded to Portage College’s supposed low graduation completion rates, which the post-secondary responded to last week.
Hanson said he believes it was a misunderstanding by the report on how Portage College offers their programs.
“We’ll have this conversation with the Ministry so they understand how Portage College works and that it doesn’t fit with the regular university model,” he said.