Danielle In QP, November 27: Provincial Budget

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, the next quarterly fiscal update is coming tomorrow, and we hope the Minister of Finance is going to be a lot more open and transparent than he was three months ago. Oil is holding steady at around $15 a barrel below the government forecast, energy revenues are dropping, and looking out a couple of years, oil will be nowhere near the $108 the government is predicting. Will the minister provide the details of the adjustments to spending in the current fiscal year to offset the drop in revenue?

Mr. Horner: Well, Mr. Speaker, the quarterly update is tomorrow as the hon. member said. I wouldn’t presume to preclude the announcement tomorrow. In fact, we’ll have a technical briefing in the morning.

Ms Smith: What I fear that means, Mr. Speaker, is that it’s going to be spend, spend, spend as if nothing is wrong. The Premier talked recently about the new fiscal reality as the reason she has to borrow for the basics like roads and schools, yet the Finance minister says that everything is fine and that he’ll deliver a balanced budget. What’s the truth?

Mr. Horner: You know, Mr. Speaker, it’s interesting that the financial illiteracy from across the way continues. I would like to just quote something out of a report that I have here: the P3 approach is an essential part of our government’s future plans; at the federal level we intend to do more P3s. Mr. Flaherty, our federal Finance minister, urged governments to avoid an ideological approach to P3s. Is the hon. member now criticizing the federal government? Or perhaps we should look at the Saskatchewan budget update. I’ll come back to that.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On this side we don’t believe in debt, and on that side they didn’t used to either. Frankly, this needs a lot more explaining. Just yesterday in the House the Finance minister claimed that we will not deficit finance the operations of this government, and then he talked about operating, capital, and savings budgets. It’s an all-in-one budget, he insists. Let’s be clear. Within that all-in-one budget – operating and capital and savings – will it be balanced?

Mr. Horner: Well, Mr. Speaker, again I guess I’m going to have to correct the hon. member across the way. I never said that we were going to have a savings budget or a capital budget or an operating budget. I said that we were going to bring forward a budget that will include an operating plan, a savings plan, and a capital plan, the way that Albertans understand how they do their finances, the way businesses in Alberta do their finances, the way the Alberta Chambers of Commerce has encouraged us to do their plans and our plans, the way the Saskatchewan government is going to balance their budget next year, the way the federal government is going to deal with their finances. I guess they’re the only ones in North America that understand financial accounting.