CALGARY – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she is looking for at least $1 billion in infrastructure funding for her province in next week’s federal budget.
She says she is also looking for changes to employment insurance for laid off workers that carry pretty large price tags.
Notley made the comments after being asked about Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s demand for $570 million in new money from Ottawa.
Wall, who is in the middle of a provincial election campaign, argues that’s the amount his province will pay into equalization this year.
Notley’s government has already indicated it will be dealing with a spending deficit that could be as high as $10 billion when it tables its budget next month.
Thousands of workers whose jobs depend on the energy industry have been laid off due to a downturn in oil prices.
“That’s what drives our ask — supporting families and creating jobs,” Notley said Friday.
“Those are the first items that we have identified, because those are focused on immediately supporting families who have lost their jobs and immediately supporting the ability to create new jobs through infrastructure.”
Finance Minister Joe Ceci said a recent uptick in oil prices to around US$40 a barrel has him sleeping a little easier at night.
He said the government is “cautiously optimistic” that oil will find a higher level soon.
“That will be a significant help to our debt and deficit situation going forward.”
Notley said no one should be surprised by the budget when it comes out April 14.
She said the government is aiming to hold spending increases at the rate of inflation plus growth in population.
“That would, in and of itself, be a change from what we have seen in the past,” Notley said. “I believe we will be very close to that target.”