Tuesday, October 13th7.1°C

Fiscal update: Alberta plans to borrow $3B less; on track for higher surplus

EDMONTON - The Alberta government says rising energy prices and a stronger than expected economy means the province will have to borrow almost $3 billion less than it had planned this year to build roads, hospitals and schools.

The province's first-quarter update says borrowing for capital projects is now forecast to be just over $2 billion in 2014-15 — down from $4.8 billion in the last budget.

The overall projected surplus for the year has grown by $300 million since the budget to almost $1.4 billion.

Finance Minister Doug Horner said revenue is up due to higher energy forecasts and stronger corporate income taxes.

"I can say with confidence that I believe we have turned the corner financially," Horner said Wednesday. "When it comes to Alberta's economic indicators, everything is looking up."

Total revenue is on track to be up by more than $900 million. Most of that increase is coming from non-renewable resources.

Operational expenses are also up by $328 million. That is being attributed to increased funding for post-secondary institutions, a reassessment of flood assistance spending and more money to combat mountain pine beetles.

NDP Leader Brian Mason said things will head south as soon as oil prices drop and it's time the province stops depending on such an unstable revenue source for daily operations.

"While it is up now, it will be down tomorrow, and unless we can get off the royalty roller-coaster, we are going to continue the situation where, when the price of oil drops, we are laying off nurses and teachers," Mason said.

Critics, such as the Opposition Wildrose party and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, have complained that the surpluses don't paint a true picture of the government's financial standing because they are being underwritten by billions in debt to pay for capital projects.

The province is forecasting a total debt of $11 billion since it began borrowing to pay for infrastructure in 2013. That's down $2.8 billion from what was forecast in the spring budget.

"We are at a time when we are getting record revenues and we have a government that is still not able to live within its means," Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said.

"They have demonstrated they simply are not capable of managing our incredible wealth and our incredible resource wealth. There is absolutely no excuse for us to be running a shortfall."

Horner dismissed that criticism.

"At the end of the day, no matter how you analyze the numbers, the strong surplus position does not change," Horner said. "Alberta is on strong financial ground and will continue to be going forward."

The Canadian Press

Read more Business News


Recent Trending

Today's Market
S&P TSX13964.36-14.30
S&P CDNX552.26+5.20
S&P 5002017.46+2.57
CDN Dollar0.7678-0.0013
Natural Gas2.54+0.00

Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.225-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.25+0.02
Metalex Ventures0.07+0.02
Russel Metals21.26-0.29
Copper Mountain Mining0.66+0.05
Colorado Resources0.07+0.00
ReliaBrand Inc0.0245+0.0070
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.02+0.00
Mission Ready Services0.075-0.005
Decisive Dividend Corp3.25+0.14
Diamcor Mining0.97+0.03



228209252 - 9845 Eastside Road
3 bedrooms 3 baths
more details
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading

Income for life?

Photo: Thinkstock.comIn almost every conversation I have with clients these days, the topic swings to interest rates. What direction they’re going, how long will they stay where they are and how...

Perfect (reno'd) home

Photo: Thinkstock.comHow many times have you found a home in the perfect location, but it needs too much work as per the home inspection? There is a great program available through most lenders that w...

5 Claim misconceptions

Photo: Thinkstock.comIf you have been hurt in an accident or as a result of medical negligence you will likely look to your friends and family for some advice on how to deal with the situation. These ...



Member of BC Press Council