Government seeks public input on budget
St. Albert consultation set for Oct. 16
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 06, 2012 06:00 am
The provincial government is reaching out to Albertans on a variety of platforms to gather input for next year’s budget priorities.
Doug Horner, minister of finance and Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA, said the goal is to reach as many Albertans as possible, be it be in-person, online or through their MLA.
“There are some decisions we’re going to be needing to make in the future and we want to know what Albertans think,” he said.
The input gathered from Albertans is considered heavily when it comes time to put the budget together, Horner said.
“It tells us where Albertans’ priorities are and that laid into the building blocks of last year’s budget and that’s what were looking to build on this year,” he said.
Horner and Associate Minister of Finance Kyle Fawcett began a series of nine public consultations throughout the province in Calgary on Thursday.
The process will come to a close in Edmonton next Saturday, with a meeting at the Chateau Louis Hotel and Conference Centre at 11727 Kingsway Ave. from 9 a.m. to noon.
St. Albert MLA Stephen Khan will host a public consultation at the St. Albert Curling Club starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 16. Seating is limited and individuals are asked to contact the constituency office at 780-459-9113 to pre-register.
Albertans unable to attend the public meetings can still get engaged in the discussion by providing feedback online.
Web-savvy Albertans can complete a survey at www.dollarsandsense.alberta.ca, which asks them to rank their spending priorities and determine what portion of the budget should be allocated to areas such as health care, education and social services.
The online survey closes at the end of the month.
New this year is a free smartphone application for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry that is designed to show Albertans how each spending decision will influence other areas of the budget.
“Basically, it shows you what the current budget is and where things are allocated and then you can go in and make choices like how much you put towards health and education and it shows you the trade off,” said Robyn Cochrane, Treasury Board and Finance spokesperson.
The application is not yet available but is expected to be available for download in the coming days.
In the meantime, a web format of the smartphone application is available for use.
“I think it’s a good education tool,” Cochrane said. “We get feedback on people’s choices, so we can use that as a way of knowing where people’s priorities are and the choices that they’re making when they put a budget together.”