EDMONTON – Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci said millions of dollars in initiatives promised by the NDP government may be delayed due to low oil prices.
Ceci said in a year-end interview that he may hit the brakes on some or all of a dozen programs set to begin in the 2016-17 fiscal year. They include new child-care benefits, cuts in school fees paid by parents, a student summer hiring program and loans for environmental retrofits.
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Ceci said that with the price of oil below US$40 a barrel, he is comfortable recommending to cabinet that some or all of the programs be delayed or receive less funding.
“I have to do things that look at programs we could reduce and as a cabinet, we’re going to be looking at all those things,” said Ceci at a finance ministers meeting in Ottawa Monday.
The finance ministry has made no concrete decisions about cuts yet. Nothing is on or off the table, but no decisions have been made. The department told Global News no current commitments would be cut for this fiscal year.
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The finance minister and his staff are crunching numbers for the next budget which is to be presented in February or March.
This year’s current budget forecasts a $6.1-billion deficit.
With files from Reid Fiest, Global News