Calgary

Joe Ceci says infrastructure spending will go ahead despite revenue shortfalls

Some new government programs might have to be scaled back in the new year, but Finance Minister Joe Ceci vows that infrastructure spending is not in jeopardy.

Alberta's finance minister hints at delayed rollout for other new programs

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says he isn't interested in having Alberta move into online gambling. (CBC )

Some new government programs might have to be scaled back in the new year, but Finance Minister Joe Ceci vows that infrastructure spending is not in jeopardy.

The government is concerned about the impact low oil prices is having on its revenues.

Ceci warned on Tuesday that, as a result, several new programs might not actually roll out in 2016, including a new child benefit for low-income parents and the creation of new daycare spaces.

However, he said billions of dollars in new infrastructure spending will proceed.

"We're going to stimulate the economy. We're going to put Albertans back to work and we're going to take advantage of low prices and materials and labour and equipment at this time and that's the right thing to do, I think," said Ceci.

Delaying new programs is just the latest blow for the NDP government, says Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt.

"What started off as a nice rollout of their climate change strategy got derailed with the farm bill, then gets derailed again with the credit downgrade and then gets hit again with the acknowledgement that they're going to have to backtrack on some of their prettier promises," he said.

Whether that backtracking actually happens depends on oil prices — and if the provincial cabinet chooses to make some cuts.

Ceci says he expects this year's deficit will come in as projected at $6.1 billion. And he maintains that no cuts will be needed to ensure that target is met.

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