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Review of boards shows Alberta can save $35M

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci.
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci. Amber Bracken, Global News

EDMONTON — Alberta’s finance minister says the government will axe or amalgamate at least 25 of its agencies, boards, and commissions, saving $35 million over the next three years.

“It’ll make us more nimble as a government, it will obviously save us money, and it won’t affect our long-term governance for the important things moving forward,” Joe Ceci said Thursday.

Ceci declined to say which boards face the axe or will be reconstituted. He said details will be released in or around the 2016-17 budget on April 14.

READ MORE: Alberta finance minister says new austerities coming in 2016-17 budget

The decision comes after a review of 136 boards, comprising many of the heavy hitters like Alberta Health Services, which has a $14-billion a year budget.

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The government also reviewed the Alberta Energy Regulator, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, the Alberta Securities Commission, Alberta Treasury Branches, Alberta Transportation Safety Board, the Health Quality Council of Alberta, the Labour Relations Board, Municipal Government Board, Occupational Health and Safety Council and the Public Service Pension Board and the Workers’ Compensation Board.

It is the first of a three-stage review of all 301 agencies, boards, and commission across government.

Ceci said it’s critical to find savings wherever possible given that low oil prices are blowing large holes in revenues.

“There’s still more work to do, but I’m pleased with the results so far,” he said.

“Albertans expect us to be prudent and be balanced in our approach because of this significant deficit.”

READ MORE: Alberta government to review all agencies, boards and commissions 

Along with the review, Premier Rachel Notley’s government will be introducing legislation in the current sitting to update and streamline how the boards operate.

“It’s going to look at improving public oversight and stewardship of the agencies boards and commissions… in part to bring compensation and accountability and transparency back into line with the public service,” said Ceci.

Late last year, the Notley government passed legislation that will soon make public the names of members of some agencies, boards, and commissions who receive more than $125,000 a year in total compensation.

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The first such report is scheduled to be online on June 30.