EDMONTON—Alberta’s finance minister says the government will save $35 million over the next three years by axing or amalgamating at least 25 of its agencies, boards and commissions.
“It’ll make us more nimble as a government, it will obviously save us money and it won’t affect our long-term governance for the important things moving forward,” Joe Ceci said Thursday.
Ceci declined to say which boards face the axe or will be reconstituted. He said details are to be released in or around the budget on April 14.
The decision comes after a review of 136 boards that include heavy hitters such as Alberta Health Services, which has a $14-billion-a-year budget.
The government also reviewed the Alberta Energy Regulator, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, the Alberta Securities Commission, Alberta Treasury Branches, Alberta Transportation Safety Board, the Health Quality Council of Alberta, the Labour Relations Board, Municipal Government Board, Occupational Health and Safety Council, the Public Service Pension Board and the Workers’ Compensation Board.
It is the first of a three-stage review of all 301 agencies, boards and commissions across government.
Ceci said it’s critical to find savings wherever possible given that low oil prices are blowing large holes in revenues.
“There’s still more work to do, but I’m pleased with the results so far,” he said.
“Albertans expect us to be prudent and be balanced in our approach because of this significant deficit.”
Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said he supports the move toward streamlining, but urged the government not to pursue false economies by curtailing the work of boards fostering research and innovation.
“If they’re going to collapse that and jeopardize long-term research that is underway, that is a concern.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Ric McIver said he doesn’t want to see cuts that save money but rob the province of valued advice down the road.
“The boards were put there, every single one, to provide value,” said McIver.
“One thing the NDP government has been reckless about (is) insuring against unintended consequences.”
Along with the review, Premier Rachel Notley’s government plans to introduce legislation in the current sitting to update how the boards operate.
“It’s going to look at improving public oversight and stewardship of the agencies boards and commissions … in part to bring compensation and accountability and transparency back into line with the public service,” said Ceci.
Late last year, the Notley government passed legislation that will soon make public the names of members of some agencies, boards, and commissions who receive more than $125,000 a year in total compensation.
The first such report is scheduled to be online June 30.