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Alberta government to release Blue Ribbon Panel’s findings on how to climb out of deficit

WATCH ABOVE: On Tuesday, the findings from a panel tasked by the Alberta government to look into the province's finances and come up with options for helping the province emerge from its deficit is scheduled to be released. Some unions are expressing concerns about what happens after that.

Read an updated story on the release of the report, here.

The findings from a panel tasked by the Alberta government to look into the province’s finances and come up with options for helping the province emerge from its deficit is scheduled to be released on Tuesday.

A news conference has been scheduled for 11 a.m. at Calgary’s McDougall Centre. Finance Minister Travis Toews and Blue Ribbon Panel chair Janice MacKinnon are expected to address reporters.

“As promised in our platform, we recruited an independent, non-partisan group of experts to conduct a deep dive into Alberta’s fiscal situation,” Premier Jason Kenney said in May. “This panel is tasked with recommending a path to a balanced budget without raising taxes, as is our commitment to Albertans, by the year 2022-23.”

READ MORE: Former Saskatchewan finance minister advising Alberta government on fiscal plan

Watch below: (From May 7, 2019) Premier Jason Kenney has tasked some fiscal heavyweights with taking a deep dive into Alberta’s books. Tom Vernon reports.

Kenney brings in fiscal experts to take closer look at Alberta’s books
Kenney brings in fiscal experts to take closer look at Alberta’s books
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Recommendations made by MacKinnon and her panel are expected to help guide the UCP government’s decision-making when it releases its first-ever budget, which is expected to be delivered this fall.

Toews held a news conference last week to provide Albertans with a first-quarter fiscal update. He said the province brought in $13.4 billion from April to June, a figure that was nearly identical to the numbers for the same time frame last year.

The deficit was announced as being $835 million, about $365 million lower than it was in the first quarter of 2018, but Toews expressed concern about operating expenses increasing by $270 million and debt-servicing costs rising by $93 million.

“Our year-over-year revenue has remained flat, but we’re burdened with cost pressures and compounding debt left by previous governments,” Toews said.

READ MORE: Oil prices, tax income keep Alberta Q1 revenue in line with last year

Watch below: (From Aug. 27, 2019) Finance Minister Travis Toews offered a fiscal update on the state of Alberta’s finances on Tuesday. Tom Vernon has the details.

Alberta finance minister offers Q1 fiscal update
Alberta finance minister offers Q1 fiscal update

Since the Blue Ribbon Panel was first established, the government has reduced Alberta’s corporate income tax rate by one percentage point. The UCP government said it did this to help spur job creation.

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“With the amount of investment that fled this province, we really believed we needed a bold move to attract investment again back into this province,” Toews said of the tax cut when it was first introduced in May.

READ MORE: Alberta introduces bill to slash corporate income taxes by a third to 8%

At the time, Opposition NDP critic Joe Ceci said such tax cuts have not been proven to create jobs.

He also said such tax cuts have led governments to cut spending in sectors like health and education to make up for the lost revenue.

“Real live examples in other jurisdictions did not result in the kind of return on investment that he (Toews) is talking about,” Ceci said in May.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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