It was a day of fiscal reckoning, as Premier Jason Kenney put it.
The province unveiled a financial update on Thursday, where Minister of Finance Travis Toews highlighted a suspected $24.2 billion deficit due to economic impacts from the pandemic and the crash in oil prices.
The deficit presented by Toews is $16.8 billion higher than estimated in Budget 2020, which is due to a sharp, almost $4 billion decline in non-renewable resource revenue.
“We are facing the most significant economic challenge of our generation. To deal with this challenge, our government is developing a path forward – a path of economic recovery that will see job creation, diversification and stability restored to Alberta’s finances,” exclaimed Toews.
The province sits at $99.6 billion debt or $22,400 per Albertan.
Total revenue is projected to be $38.4 billion, down $11.5 billion, or 23 per cent from Budget 2020.
“These numbers are incredibly sobering to all of us. If left unchecked, they predict a grim reality for Albertans. We are facing the most significant economic challenge of our generation,” said Toews.
“To deal with this challenge, our government is developing a path forward–a path of economic recovery that will see job creation, diversification and stability restored to Alberta’s finances.”
The province’s response to the pandemic to ensure extensive public health supports and relief measures for Albertans, Alberta businesses and municipalities has impacted forecasted expenses at $62.6 billion.
Toews used part of his speech in the legislature to point a finger at the previous NDP government for not controlling costs.
“Our friends across the aisle did nothing in their four years to control the cost of government…with a pandemic and economic crisis, those high costs have drove the results I am presenting today.”
The government has included a $1.5 billion commitment to the Keystone XL pipeline, bringing Alberta’s total commitment to infrastructure in 2020-21 to nearly $10 billion as part of its recovery plan.
With files from Tre Lopushinsky.