News / Edmonton

Fraser institute highlights Alberta's growing debt

“Now is the time for Alberta to take on spending, not pile on debt,” Wildrose leader Brian Jean argued.

Wildrose leader Brian Jean is raising the alarm about Alberta's debt levels.

Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

Wildrose leader Brian Jean is raising the alarm about Alberta's debt levels.

With a new report indicating Alberta’s debt is set to grow faster than any other province, the opposition is warning the province is on the fast track to real financial pain.

In a report released Tuesday, the Fraser Institute said Alberta has seen its debt to gross domestic product ratio, which is an economic measure of a province’s financial health, rise by 92 per cent since 2007.

Wildrose leader Brian Jean said he worries about the NDP’s plans to add more debt over the next few years and believes instead they should look at why the province’s spending is so high.

“Now is the time for Alberta to take on spending, not pile on debt,” he said. 

Jean said combined with the recent downgrade in the province’s credit, this should be a warning sign for the NDP. He said with rough economic times hitting the province, Alberta can also expect to see less revenue from taxes and royalties. 

“I think it’s much worse than people are forecasting at this stage, because they are overestimating revenues,” he said.

Finance minister Joe Ceci’s spokesperson, Leah Holoiday, said the government believes the Fraser Institute report actually shows the province is in strong shape. 

“The Fraser Institute study highlights the province is the only jurisdiction in Canada to be in a net financial asset position,” she said.

She said the government’s spending plans are about getting through the tough times and building what the province needs.

“Alberta is currently experiencing significant fiscal challenges due to the drop in commodity prices. The government has responded with a budget that aims to spur job creation, promote economic growth and invest in infrastructure to keep Albertans working.”