Premier Rachel Notley signalled Thursday her government will start "compassionately" cutting spending in the spring 2018 budget.

"Now is the point in the plan where the same steady approach that saw us through the recession is going to see us carefully and compassionately tighten our belts," she said in a speech to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Councils.

"And ask others to tighten theirs."

In her speech, Notley noted the government is taking measures such as negotiating "common-sense agreements" with public sector unions.

Asked about her comments afterwards, Notley said her government spent money to build infrastructure and maintain services to get the province through the drop in oil prices.

Now that the economy is showing signs of recovery, it's time to alter that course, she said.

"We obviously have an important obligation to continue that strategic approach to our fiscal work and our fiscal plan to find a responsible, careful way to bring the budget back into balance," she said. "And that's always been our plan."

Jason Nixon, house leader of the United Conservative Party, said he was happy to hear the NDP is finally going in that direction.

"That said, I think the last two years of bad fiscal management and ideological policies have created a hole that could be very, very hard to get out of," he said.

The province is forecasting debt to reach $43.3 billion by the end of this fiscal year.

The debt is expected to reach $71.1 billion by 2019-20.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci has said the province's second-quarter update will be released on Nov. 28.