Alberta panel says savings to be found in health, education changes

A panel looking into Alberta’s finances says the province habitually overspends on the services it delivers.

The panel, chaired by former Saskatchewan finance minister Janice MacKinnon, says Alberta’s annual expenditures would be $10.4 billion less if the province were to spend the same per person as do British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

The report, ordered by Premier Jason Kenney, says if Alberta matched the other provinces, it would have a $3.7-billion surplus this year instead of a $6.7-billion deficit.

“”Raising taxes is not the answer. Alberta has a spending problem and the government needs to act quickly and decisively to reduce its spending,” MacKinnon said. “The province needs to go beyond merely cutting spending to transform the way programs and services are delivered.”

The panel also notes that Alberta’s spending per capita is the highest in Canada.

It makes 26 recommendations that include reviews of health care and education.

It addresses high income among doctors, recommends lowering administration costs in schools and says universities should be funded more through tuition.

“It’s clear Alberta’s spending is out of control and must be brought back in line,” said Travis Toews, Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. “Our government was elected to balance the budget and what we have learned from this report furthers our commitment to making that happen and getting Alberta back on track.”