Premier Jason Kenney speaks to the media in Edmonton, Alberta, on Tuesday Oct. 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

Alberta UCP government tables budget with cuts to civil servants, universities

The budget builds on the government’s flagship corporate tax cut

Alberta’s budget preserves health and education funding but takes a big stick to cities, civil servants and universities.

The first budget from the United Conservative government elected in the spring projects a deficit of $8.7 billion on $50 billion in revenue for 2019-20. Debt is projected to rise to $72 billion by next spring.

It sets to reduce overall program spending by 2.8 per cent over four years to balance the books by 2023, while delivering tax incentives and tax cuts to allow the private sector to grow an economy weighed down by sluggish oil and gas prices.

“It’s a good day for Alberta,” Finance Minister Travis Toews said prior to introducing the fiscal plan in the legislature Thursday.

“Our budget theme is getting Alberta back to work.”

The budget builds on the government’s flagship corporate tax cut that has already seen the rate drop to 11 per cent from 12 per cent. It’s to reach eight per cent by 2022.

The cut, along with expanded pipeline access expected from projects like the Trans Mountain expansion, is the foundation of the government’s plan to grow the economy while minimizing service cuts.

But Toews said if financial conditions worsen outside the province’s control, the government will break out the scissors.

The Canadian Press

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