Alberta panel asked to recommend path to balance without raising taxes

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has named a panel chaired by former Saskatchewan finance minister Janice MacKinnon with a mandate to find a path toward a balanced budget without raising taxes.

The panel, which also includes former ATB Financial president Dave Mowat and former University of Alberta dean of business Mike Percy, is expected to report back by Aug. 15.

Their recommendations will be used in formulating a provincial budget this fall.

“An election of a new government is an opportunity to reset … and that’s why I think Albertans will be very well-served to have independent expert advice from this panel,” Kenney said.

The other panel members are:

  • Kim Henderson, former deputy minister to the premier, cabinet secretary and head of the public service for the Province of British Columbia.
  • Bev Dahlby, a distinguished fellow and research director at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.
  • Jay Ramotar, who held several deputy minister postings with the Alberta government, including Service Alberta, Solicitor General and Public Security, Health and Wellness, Infrastructure and Transportation and Treasury Board.

The NDP accused Kenney of using the panel to provide cover for future government cuts.

Deron Bilous, MLA for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview, said there is no way to balance the budget by 2022 while cutting corporate taxes without making massive cuts to government services.

“My concern is that Mr. Kenney is putting them up as a way to pass the buck,” Bilous said of the panel.

Kenney said the UCP promised in its platform to name a panel to help reform Alberta’s tax system. But that won’t come until later in the government’s four-year mandate.

Janice MacKinnon, the former finance minister with the Government of Saskatchewan, will chair the province’s newly appointed Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

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