The Alberta government is under new management and in the speech from the throne that was tabled on Monday, set a new direction the government will be taking under Premier Jim Prentice.
During the speech, one of the major priorities that was laid out was bringing the province back to a conservative approach when it comes to the finances of the province.
Moments after the speech was tabled, Prentice said in a media scrum that the province would be back to balanced budgets, starting this year.
“This province will have a balanced budget by 2014,” the premier said. Getting to that balanced budget will be due to the high oil revenues the province saw in the first half of the fiscal year, Prentice said. “The province is in good shape financially because the first half of the year was so strong and we recorded a significant surplus,” Prentice said.
“That surplus will erode in the second half of the year with oil prices being at $75 per barrel, but we will run the Government of Alberta in the black ink.”
Danielle Smith, leader of the Official Opposition, said that the throne speech that was tabled Monday was just recycled material from the previous governments.
“Mr. Prentice made a lot of expensive campaign promises, but Albertans not only want promises, they want a plan on how to achieve them,” Smith said.
Smith said after the speech that the blueprint for the upcoming session never addressed the falling oil prices.
“There was no recognition of the real danger Alberta is in right now with oil approaching $70,” she said.
“There were a lot of expensive campaign promises made on health care, on education, on building infrastructure and I think it remains to be seen whether or not this premier has a plan to deliver on those.”
Raj Sherman, leader of the Liberal Party, said that this throne speech lays out a plan to grow the province on the backs of students and seniors.
Newly elected NDP Leader Rachel Notley slammed the speech by saying that it leaves Albertans out in the cold.
“Our new premier has clearly chosen to protect the bank accounts of the wealthy over the services Alberta families want and need,” she said. “From everything that I’ve heard from families around this province, better health care and education are their top priority. Instead, they are getting more service cuts. This is exactly the kind of speech you’d expect from a Bay Street banker.
“This speech represents a continued abandonment of the commitments the PCs made to voters in the last election and upon which the premier’s majority relies. In that sense, the broken promises in this speech represent only more of the same,” Notley added, comparing Prentice to previous premiers.
Prentice was also sworn in as an MLA on Monday, along with Education Minister Gordon Dirks, Health Minister Stephen Mandel and Mike Ellis, MLA for Calgary West.