Back in black? Alberta set to table budget reflecting 'improving fiscal situation'
As Alberta prepares for the tabling of its next provincial budget, Finance Minister Travis Toews says there are signs of greater optimism.
The province has seen years of multibillion-dollar deficits, but Toews told CTV News Edmonton that improvement is on the horizon.
"We have an improving fiscal situation here in the province, certainly this year, but we have an improving fiscal trajectory as well," Toews said.
Last February, the finance minister predicted a deficit of $18.2 billion. By November, the projected deficit shrunk to $5.8 billion. Now, one economist believes there could be a chance the budget could move back to the black.
Trevor Tombe, economist at the University of Calgary, believes Alberta could see its first surplus since 2014, to the tune of about $1 billion to $2 billion.
"If we don't have a surplus, it will be because the government chose not to have one through price assumptions or contingencies," Tombe said.
Tombe says that is based on a $14.2-billion revenue increase driven by natural resource revenue growth, especially in non-renewables.
"We shouldn't forget that there will be an inevitable sharp decline in royalty revenues at some unpredictable point in the future," Tombe added.
While the finance minister said resource revenues have surged, Toews insisted they are not the whole story, indicating three key priorities for the province that have helped improve an unfavourable fiscal situation.
"We have been doing all that we can broadly to position this province to have an incredibly competitive and attractive business environment," the minister said. "We've gone out to sell the province to the global investment community and we are seeing investment come into this province in the billions, and it's not just in the energy industry."
That investment will create better conditions for Alberta workers, Toews argues.
"As we position the province for businesses to operate most efficiently and competitively, that has an impact on the cost of services and products that are offered in the province."
In addition, Toews said the province has been working to reduce the per capita cost of delivering ongoing government services closer to what other provinces spend.
"While we funded health care with all the resources they've needed to deal with the pandemic, while we supported Albertans and Alberta businesses during this time, at the same time we worked to deliver ongoing government services more efficiently," Toews said.
"I believe that is essential to get this province on a sustainable fiscal trajectory," he added. "We will maintain a strong balance sheet for the province."
The last piece of the puzzle is projected increases in personal and corporate income tax, as Toews says more Albertans and businesses are recovering from the pandemic.
"That shows the broad strength in the economy, and that's very encouraging and consistent with what we are seeing in terms of investment announcements and the growth in tech and aviation (sectors)," he said.
Toews said Albertans can expect to see a responsible budget that pays down debt, invests in the Heritage Savings Plan, gives consideration to key capital projects, and ensures health care capacity is prioritized.
"We have a health-care system with very little margin in terms of extra capacity," Toews told CTV News. "And so we have a health minister right now that's looking into options for expanded health care capacity in those areas where we have really been pushed over the last number of months."
The budget will be delivered on Feb. 24.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Chelan Skulski
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Students trapped inside a classroom with a gunman repeatedly called 911 during this week's attack on a Texas elementary school, including one who pleaded, 'Please send the police now,' as nearly 20 officers waited in the hallway for more than 45 minutes, authorities said Friday.
As Johnny Depp's high-profile libel lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard wound down, Heard took her final opportunity on the stand to comment on the hate and backlash she’s endured online during the trial.
A new report says Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto rank among the top 20 cities around the world when it comes to work-life balance.
Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino will table new firearms legislation on Monday, according to his colleague Justice Minister David Lametti. In an interview with CTV's Question Period that will air on Sunday, Lametti pointed to the advance notice given to the House of Commons, and confirmed the plan is to see the new bill unveiled shortly after MPs return to the Commons on May 30.
An 11-year-old survivor of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas, feared the gunman would come back for her so she smeared herself in her friend's blood and played dead.
For 70 years, Andre Hissink has held a grudge against the Dutch government, but this week, the 102-year-old Second World War veteran’s persistence paid off – the Dutch king granted his wish for a rare dual citizenship.
Canada has tapped into its own strategic stockpile of emergency medical supplies -- stored for a national emergency -- to help Ukraine. It has donated over 375,000 items of medical equipment and medicines from Canada's strategic stockpile since the invasion by Russia began.
Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, more commonly known as 'broken heart syndrome' or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, is an actual medical condition triggered by severe emotional or physical stress and is different from a heart attack.
After a six-week trial in which Johnny Depp and Amber Heard tore into each other over the nasty details of their short marriage, both sides told a jury the exact same thing Friday -- they want their lives back.
Calgary Flames fans are still coming to terms with a playoff series loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night in a game that saw both controversy and heartbreak following a Connor McDavid overtime goal.
Alberta Parks has closed a section of Fish Creek Provincial Park in the city's southeast after aggressive coyotes attacked a dog and its owner.
RCMP are investigating the circumstances of a two-vehicle crash on Highway 1 on Friday.
'We will have to deal with the issues': Saskatoon condo residents at odds with city over public washroom plan
Outcry over the planned location of public washrooms caused Tuesday's city council meeting to stretch late into the evening.
A pedestrian injured by a vehicle in Prince Albert has died.
Saskatchewan Roughriders rookie Nelson Lokombo is ready to return to the football field after missing the entire 2021 season with an achilles injury.
Premiers from western Canada met to discuss healthcare in their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years in Regina on Friday at the 2022 Western Premiers' Conference.
A Regina family facing homelessness will not be evicted from their government-owned rental unit after it was discovered they owed more than $1,000 in back rent.
An alleged mail theft and identity fraud has resulted in more than 100 charges for a 42-year-old Edmonton man, according to the Regina Police Service (RPS).
A lawyer for families of victims killed in the Nova Scotia mass shooting says an 18-hour delay in finding five bodies of those murdered is a sign of "deficient" policing.
A Cape Breton father is warning the public of the dangers in the area he lives after his teenager son fell nearly 40 feet over a cliff in Glace Bay.
The lawyer who represented a man who murdered three RCMP officers nearly eight years ago in Moncton, N.B., said a decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada Friday may potentially change his sentence.
WATCH | New video appears to show man carrying air rifle on Toronto streets before being killed by police
Security footage obtained by CTV News Toronto appears to show the man killed by police after walking down residential streets carrying a BB gun Thursday in the moments before the shooting.
Police have released a video showing the arrest of two suspects who allegedly stole a Mercedes – the latest in a string of armed vehicle thefts that has prompted police services in the Greater Toronto Area to create a carjacking task force.
Toronto Pearson International is warning travellers and Mississauga residents they may notice unusual activity at the airport this weekend.
Is it unconstitutional to make someone pay to get a legal document translated into French? One of Montreal's top lawyers thinks so, and pointed out two other things from Bill 96 that he thinks the courts would most easily find fault with.
Canada's highest court has ruled that Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered six people at the Quebec City mosque in 2017, will be eligible for parole after 25 years.
Hydro-Quebec is still struggling to restore power to tens of thousands of homes left without electricity, six days after deadly storms hit in Quebec and Ontario.
As of Friday evening, 26,000 Hydro Ottawa customers remain without power in all neighbourhoods of the city.
The principal of a French Catholic high school in Orleans is leaving the school this week, two weeks after students said a dress code enforcement "blitz" left them feeling degraded and humiliated.
Approximately 25,000 people will take part in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
A man, who was a referee at high school volleyball games in Guelph for more than 30 years, is facing sex assault-related charges.
The Region of Waterloo says there's a high safety risk at a Kitchener encampment and they are working with residents to prepare them for their eventual move.
Two low-cost airlines are butting heads over an agreement at the Region of Waterloo International Airport. Swoop wants to offer flights but the airport already has an exclusivity deal with rival Flair Airlines
A northern Ontario man says he jumped through several hoops and dealt with red tape as he tried to launch an inflatable water park on Ramsey Lake this summer.
Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) has honoured two people from Sudbury for their rescue efforts during last year's rescue at Totten Mine.
A 54-year-old man is facing several charges in Sudbury, including sexual assault, following an investigation triggered by reports someone was trying to traffic a victim under the age of 16.
Winnipeg police are telling people to find an alternate route this afternoon as they are investigating a fatal crash near the St. Boniface Industrial Park.
Fifty-eight-year-old Vivian Ketchum is set to receive her high school diploma at a graduation ceremony at the University of Winnipeg next month. It is a moment that is decades in the making.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson is hinting at an increase in the minimum wage.
With ridership still well below pre-pandemic levels, TransLink looks for 'long-term revenue solutions'
Metro Vancouver's public transit system will be dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for years to come, according to recent funding and ridership announcements by TransLink.
Charges approved in 'very serious and traumatic' Surrey sexual assault involving break-in, confinement
A man identified previously by police has now been charged in connection with what officers call a "very serious and traumatic" sexual assault in Surrey, B.C.
The popular Grouse Grind Trail is set to reopen this weekend, following a colder-than-usual spring that kept conditions icy well into May.
B.C. speedboat driver arrested with 650kg of meth 'feared for his family's safety,' he told U.S. investigators
New details are emerging after a 51-year-old Alberta man was arrested aboard a speedboat that U.S. authorities say was carrying 650 kilograms of methamphetamine between Washington state and British Columbia.
At least one building was destroyed Friday afternoon as firefighters rushed to a large fire at the vacant Pioneer Square Mall in Mill Bay, B.C.
West Shore RCMP are on the lookout for a missing dog that was inside of a truck when it was stolen from the Langford area on Thursday morning.