Alberta’s path back to fiscal balance won’t be easy, and the temptation for governments to stray from it will remain in the years to come. That’s why we should consider a permanent Alberta Fiscal Commission. The Commission would report back to the provincial legislature on a semi-regular basis and give elected officials and the public the information they need to understand the choices before us and make the best possible budget decisions.
Like the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, which was first created by the federal government in 2006, the Alberta Fiscal Commission would be non-partisan and above the fray of politics. Its job would be clear: tell the truth about the province’s fiscal picture, forecast budget implications of existing patterns and emerging trends, and recommend ways that the government of the day could improve the situation.
There would be a cost associated with creating, staffing, and operating this sort of commission. But depoliticizing some of the issues and producing good information for the public to consider would be invaluable, especially when it could help inform a better and more sustainable fiscal path for the province.