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Alberta files deficit budget, but says hope on the horizon

Alberta files red-ink budget

The Alberta budget remains mired in red ink, but doubles down on oil and gas and gives a boost to diversification.

Finance Minister Travis Toews is forecasting a $6.8-billion deficit this year on revenues of $50 billion.

Debt is expected to rise to almost $77 billion by the spring of 2021.

Toews says while unemployment remains stubbornly high at about seven per cent, he's optimistic that new pipeline projects and higher exports will mean more revenues for Alberta's lifeblood industry.

The province is also investing $200 million to encourage innovation and attract talent in cutting-edge industries such as artificial intelligence.

Toews says given that oil prices will always be volatile, Alberta will keep a close watch on its spending to make sure it gets back to balanced books by 2023.

Some highlights:

  • The budget deficit for 2019-20 year is $7.5 billion, less than the $8.7 billion originally forecast.
  • Funding is maintained for core services, with $8.2 billion for kindergarten to Grade 12 school education and $20.6 billion for health.
  • Alberta is to spend $26.7 billion on public sector compensation, with full-time equivalent jobs expected to drop by 1,436 mainly through attrition.
  • The capital plan will spend $19.3 billion over three years, maintaining commitments on projects including the Calgary Cancer Centre, renovating the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary and funding for light rail transit projects in Edmonton and Calgary.
  • A "New Jobs Blueprint" promises $200 billion for growth initiatives new areas like high-tech, artificial intelligence, aviation and financial services.
  • Debt is to be $68 billion this year, $77 billion by end of March 2021


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