Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Spending More but Saving More: Third-Quarter Fiscal Update

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Spending More but Saving More: Third-Quarter Fiscal Update

Article excerpt

Alberta spending more but saving more: fiscal update


EDMONTON - New numbers show Alberta's economy continues to dig itself out of the deep hole caused by crashing oil prices as Premier Rachel Notley's government both spends and saves more.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the province is on track for a $9.1-billion deficit when the budget year ends March 31. That's $1.4 billion lower than the deficit expected when Ceci tabled this year's budget last spring.

Ceci notes forecasts also point to an economic rebound as production goes up and unemployment falls.

"Nearly 90,000 full-time jobs were created over the last year and Alberta's GDP growth led the country at 4.5 per cent in 2017," Ceci said in a statement Wednesday after releasing the third-quarter update to the 2017-18 budget.

"We will continue to work hard to ensure this recovery reaches all Albertans."

The province is expected to take in an extra $1.9 billion this year for a total of $46.9 billion in revenue -- mainly due to higher than expected oil revenue and returns on investments.

Spending is also rising to $55.9 billion -- about $1 billion more than projected at budget -- to cover increases in services for children, people with disabilities, and for employment and income supports.

The debt is going to hit almost $42 billion this year. Debt payments will be $1.4 billion.

Alberta anticipates $883 million from crude oil royalties, almost double what had been expected, although revenue from bitumen royalties will be $2.4 billion -- about $188 million less than projected.

Oil revenues were hampered this year by the price discount Alberta's blended bitumen sells at compared with the benchmark North American West Texas Intermediate price.

The discount is tied mainly to pipeline bottlenecks that drive up the price of getting Alberta's heavy oil to U. …

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