Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner gives the quarterly update at the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton on Thursday, August 30, 2012.
Credits: CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI AGENCY
The province's projected $3 billion deficit -- and all the newest numbers from Finance Minister Doug Horner -- were dumbed down to a glossy brochure in Thursday's first quarter fiscal update.
No high-fallutin' technical briefing -- and no solid specifics in some very pertinent areas -- has the Canadian Taxpayers Federation seeing red in numbers that Premier Alison Redford had promised to be in the black by 2013.
Slimmed down by a third from 13 pages to nine from the previous first quarter fiscal update, the new report is glammed-up with flashy graphics, but it is missing a few details -- like where an extra $300 million in "premium fees and revenues" came from.
There's ample white space, but no capital plan specifics, no net financial and capital assets summary.
Instead, a three-page narrative on the province's economic outlook.
Horner said the stripped-down piece follows advice from the auditor general.
"A more meaningful report of realities that is understandable, rather than a prediction of things that may or may not come," he said.
"We didn't do a technical briefing because the reality is if you have to do a technical briefing for you folks, how would we expect Albertans are going to understand what we're telling you? I want Albertans to understand what the first quarter results are based on actual to budget, just the way they would do at home, just the way they would do in their business."
The no-explanation explanation infuriated Hennig.
"That is the most insulting thing I've ever heard -- basically telling the the reporters and Albertans they're too stupid to understand the numbers," Scott Hennig, director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), said.
The close-mouthed report could be in violation of Alberta's Fiscal Responsibility Act, he said.
"They have to, by law, every quarter produce a quarterly budget update. This is not a quarterly budget update ... This is a glossy brochure. I've never seen anything as ridiculous as this," Hennig said.