EDMONTON – Premier Jason Kenney announced this week a blue ribbon panel of experts to examine Alberta’s finances and economy and the chair has a Bow Valley connection.
During a press conference Tuesday (May 7) to introduce the panel, Kenney mentioned that chair Janice MacKinnon owns a home in Canmore.
MacKinnon is also chair for the Investment Saskatchewan board of directors, chair of the Institute for Research on Public Policy and a former finance minister for the Government of Saskatchewan.
“I am pleased to announce today the formation of this blue ribbon panel on Alberta’s finances,” Kenney said. “This independent, non-partisan group of experts will conduct a deep dive into Alberta’s fiscal situation.
“This panel is tasked with recommending a path towards balance, but without raising taxes, by 2022-23 and a realistic plan to repay debt thereafter.”
The panel will begin its work immediately and report back to the provincial government and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board President Travis Toews by summer.
“By identifying inefficiencies in Alberta’s current fiscal situation, we can begin making plans to bring balance to the province’s finances,” Toews said. “We will do this while remaining committed to ensuring the future of high-quality, frontline services for Albertans.”
The other panel members include former Alberta MLA Mike Percy, former deputy minister and cabinet secretary in the B.C. government Kim Henderson, University of Calgary school of public policy research director Bev Dahlby, former ATB financial president and CEO Dave Mowat and Jay Ramotar – a former Alberta deputy minister.
“I am excited to chair the blue ribbon panel on Alberta’s finances and I am eager to get down to work with such an expert panel,” MacKinnon said during the press conference. “Today we hear there are only two fiscal choices for governments: to keep spending or introduce draconian budgets that cut front line services and cherished programs.
“In fact, if we continue to spend this will lead us to a future where draconian choices are necessary, but if we act now to balance the budget in a measured way over time, we can make difficult choices and also protect front line services and programs.”
But when it comes to revenue sources for the province, MacKinnon said those are political decisions and not part of the mandate the panel has been given.
What is part of the mandate, and included in a letter from Kenney to the chair, is advice and recommendations for a new fiscal framework, including requirements for government to present a four-year balanced budget.