Premier Alison Redford.
Credits: Ian Kucerak/Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency
EDMONTON -- Premier Alison Redford booked a $55,000 commercial to break the budget news to Albertans.
"On Thursday evening, I will begin a conversation with Albertans about the challenges we face as a result of the rapidly falling price of Alberta oil," she said in a note to PC party faithful.
Redford's eight-minute video costs $26,000 to produce, "significantly lower than the last state of the province address in 2009, which cost $134,000 to produce and air," her communications director, Stephan Baranski, said.
The airtime on CTV will cost taxpayers $29,000.
The dilemma: a record $40-billion-plus budget with its $2.4 billion year-over-year hike was based on peaked bitumen prices.
Finance Minister Doug Horner said everything's now on the table for cuts to balance the operating budget, never mind the $3 billion deficit.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said dipping oil revenues were the topic of her very first question in the spring legislative session.
Had the premier paid attention then, "she wouldn't be in a position now where she's having to pay taxpayers' dollars in a mad scramble to try to get ahead of an issue that she's clearly well behind on," the Wildrose leader said.
Redford should use P.C. party funds for the piece, Smith said, adding that Ontario passed laws against using tax dollars for political ads and B.C.'s NDP have suggested a similar law.
"She's wrapping it up in the language of a state of the province address, but let's be clear: it's a political tactic and it's essentially political advertising and the taxpayers are on the hook for it," Smith said.
NDP Leader Brian Mason said watch for broken promises.
"After making $6 billion worth of promises during the last election, the premier now has to admit that she won't keep many of her promises," Mason said, citing in-budget stealth cuts already made to home-care, education and, just Wednesday, 48 licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in Edmonton.
Tories elected her to govern in good times and bad, Redford said Wednesday, citing a PC mandate to invest in services and infrastructure.
In the March 7 budget, the Tory government will live within the province's means, Redford said.
"Despite falling oil revenues, I give you my commitment that as we deliver our long-term economic plan for Alberta, we will be thoughtful in our approach and we will deliver on these priorities," Redford said.
The eight-minute tape will broadcast Thursday at 6:52 p.m. on CTV. It will run on CTV2 at 7:52 p.m., 11:52 p.m. and on Friday at 11:52 am.