EDMONTON -- Alberta’s government says it will keep its promise to reduce provincial debt without implementing a sales tax.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation called on the United Conservative government to take fiscal action over the weekend, when it says Alberta’s debt tipped over $70 billion.

Franco Terrazzano, CTF’s Alberta director, told CTV News, “The situation in Alberta is bad right now, but they’re only going to get worse if we don’t address the spending and the debt problem.”

According to CTF, the debt works out to just over $16,000 per Albertan.

“The best time to put out a fire is before it grows,” Terrazzano said, “but we’re still adding more debt onto the back of today’s and tomorrow’s taxpayers.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Treasury Board and Finance said the majority of the debt is the result of the previous NDP government.

“We have set forward a credible and realistic plan to do so with a 2.8 per cent reduction in spending over four years,” wrote Jerrica Goodwin, adding that Alberta’s spending is higher than other provinces but doesn't yield better results.

While the 2019 provincial budget introduced several cuts, one economist said Alberta can’t manage its debt by simply spending less.

MacEwan University economist Rafat Alam suggested the province should consider a three per cent sales tax, which could generate $6 billion per year.

“Politically, it’s a tough place to go,” Alam commented. “But you cannot manage the debt only by decreasing expenditure. You need to manage it by increasing revenue also.”

The taxpayers federation wants to see Alberta “tackle the spending problem,” and the government is adamant it won’t implement a sales tax.

“We have also been clear that we will not implement a provincial sales tax. Alberta spends more than other provinces while getting similar, or in some cases worse, results,” Goodwill said.

“While the Opposition and others would increase taxes on Alberta families, our government will look to find efficiencies and make sure that taxpayers get value for their hard earned dollars.”

Albertans are encouraged to send in feedback on the upcoming Budget 2020 in an online survey that is open until Feb. 7. They can also participate in two telephone town hall meetings on Jan. 27 and 28, for which there is more information online.

With a report from CTV News Edmonton’s Sarah Plowman