Upcoming Alberta budget 'not the time for fiscal restraint': Kenney

WATCH: Premier Jason Kenney said this is the worst possible time to consider a provincial sales tax, after the Business Council of Alberta released a policy paper that recommended Alberta implement an eight per cent HST as a measure to balance the books.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney‘s UCP government is scheduled to release its 2020-21 budget next week and it won’t be one that fixates on fiscal restraint.

Kenney talked about the budget on The Danielle Smith Show on 770 CHQR Friday morning and said this budget will focus on protecting “lives and livelihoods.”

“So the focus is really health care and jobs,” he said. 

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Kenney ran on a promise of balanced budgets, but said this is not the year to focus on that. This year, he says, Alberta’s government needs to spend to keep people safe and working.

“In the midst of the worst global recession in 90 years, the worst public health crisis in a century, and just on the tail of the worst collapse of energy prices ever,” he said. 

“Where there there’s so many unemployed Albertans and obviously extraordinary health-care expenses, this is not a year where we can balance the budget after a 25 per cent collapse of our revenues last year.”

But he promises the budget will still practice fiscal responsibility and a “continued drive to operate more efficiently.”

“Our goal here is to get down to the average spending of other Canadian provinces to take the necessary steps to put our fiscal house back in order.”

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The government will also be setting out what Kenney called “fiscal policy anchors” in this budget like a debt to GDP ratio of 30 per cent.

Kenney says this plan will set the government up well to balance the next budget — the final budget of this term.

The budget is set to be tabled on Feb. 25.

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