Finance Minster Joe Ceci to take part in pre-budget telephone town halls with Albertans

A 2017 file photo of Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci. Global News

Albertans will have a chance to have their say this week on how public dollars should be allocated in the next provincial budget.

On Monday, the government announced that Finance Minister Joe Ceci will host a pair of town halls this week, which “will give people the opportunity to ask questions and provide their views on the provincial budget.”

READ MORE: Deficit revised to $7.5 billion but Alberta grapples with oil price differential

Watch below: (From November 2018) Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci delivered the province’s second quarter fiscal update. So what does it mean for the province’s bottom line? Tom Vernon reports.

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Alberta finance minister talks oil prices during fiscal update – Nov 30, 2018

“Last year, we saw the recovery in Alberta’s economy grow with new jobs and a decreasing deficit,” Ceci said. “Our government continues to be on track to balance the budget as planned in 2023, without sacrificing our health care or education.

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“I’m looking forward to hearing directly from Albertans about their fiscal priorities, as we work to diversify the economy and create good jobs.”

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Watch below: (From Jan. 24, 2019) Premier Rachel Notley’s speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce sounded more like a campaign stop. But as Fletcher Kent reports, the writ has still not been dropped.

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Alberta premier makes policy promises and targets Kenney – Jan 24, 2019

The first town hall will be held on Wednesday evening and will be open to callers from anywhere in the province north of Red Deer. The second town hall will take place Thursday evening and be open to callers from Red Deer and all communities south of that city. Both town halls are scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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Here’s how the town halls will work:

  • Albertans can sign up here for a call or dial in shortly before the telephone town halls begin. People can also listen and participate online
  • Albertans with a publicly listed landline will automatically receive a call (publicly listed telephone numbers that are not on the national or provincial “do not call list” will be dialed and invited to participate in the call)
  • Participants can choose to register online in advance
  • Cellphone users and other interested participants may dial into the call toll-free at 1-877-229-8493, and enter the code 115500 at least 10 minutes before the start of the town hall, or they can register online to be called
  • A question-and-answer period will follow after opening remarks for each town hall and the conversations will be moderated

The government said it will not save any personal information in connection with the town halls.

“Participants’ comments will help frame decisions for Budget 2019,” the government said in a news release. “Albertans can continue to provide their comments for the budget online until Feb. 10.”

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The pre-budget consultations come at a time when Alberta’s political parties are gearing up for the next provincial election. An election has to be held sometime between March and May. That means Premier Rachel Notley could drop the writ at any time.

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Last month, Alberta’s NDP government announced that the legislature will sit on March 18 for a throne speech.

READ MORE: Election speculation swirls as Alberta NDP announces throne speech for March 18

Watch below: (From Jan. 15, 2019) The Alberta government announced Tuesday that a throne speech will be held March 18 – causing many to wager a guess when the election will be called. Blake Lough reports.

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Alberta government announces throne speech date – Jan 15, 2019

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