Youth advocate, Auditor General will get no new money

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice said there will not be any funding increases for the Auditor General's office, just one day after a committee restored more than $500,000 cut to the officer's budget.

Government workers will 'have to do more than less,' Prentice says

RAW: Jim Prentice deflects questions on MLA's remarks

8 years ago
Duration 2:18
Jim Prentice deflects questions from CBC's John Archer when asked about remarks made by MLA Genia Leskiw, who said the province's youth advocate didn't "sharpened their pencils" when asking to have a funding cut reversed.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice has reversed a decision to restore $546,000​ to the province's auditor general, one day after the money was put back into the budget by a legislature committee. 

He also said there will be no new money for Alberta's child and youth advocate, which investigates the deaths of children in the province's care.

“There are going to have to be difficult choices by….everyone employed in government," Prentice said Wednesday afternoon. 

Both offices had appealed to a committee on Tuesday to have reductions in their annual budgets reversed. The reductions had originally been made made in light of a forecasted $7-billion hole in the province’s finances because of low oil prices. 

The committee reversed the cut to the auditor general, but refused to return $275,000 to the office of Del Graff, the youth and child advocate.

Graff told CBC News on Wednesday that the cuts may have a negative impact on his work.

He said investigations into child deaths may have to be delayed.

When asked about the cut, Prentice said government offices would need to learn to do "more with less" in the face of low oil prices.

“We all care about those circumstances, we are all concerned about those circumstances. But there isn’t any more money," he said.

When contacted by CBC News, staff at the Auditor General's office indicated that they were not aware of the reversal until Prentice’s announcement.

“As always, I’m prepared to meet with the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices, at their request, to discuss the budget needs of this office and any related decisions,” Merwan Saher wrote in an emailed statement.

'Feels like déjà vu': Blakeman

Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman said watchdog offices like the Auditor General and the youth advocate are required to keep the government in check.

She also implied that Prentice overstepped when he reversed the decision made by a committee of MLAs to restore money to the Auditor General.

“It’s nice to finally have confirmation that the conservative committee members get their marching orders from the government,” she said.

Blakeman said Prentice’s talk of service cuts in the face of the budget shortage sounded like “déjà vu” and hearkened back to the drastic reductions made by the Ralph Klein government.

“It’s like the premier is reading off the Ralph and Rod playbook,” she said.