News / Edmonton

Alberta budget: debt to grow to $45 billion, modest economic recovery predicted

Government projects oil price to hover around $55 US/barrel.

Alberta's Minister of Finance Joe Ceci.

Metro file

Alberta's Minister of Finance Joe Ceci.

The Alberta government will run an estimated deficit of $10.3 billion this fiscal year, with debt expected to swell to $45 billion, according to the budget tabled Thursday.

While documents say a rebounding economy and reined in spending puts the government on track to balance the budget, it won’t be for another six years.

 Overall revenues are forecast to be $45 billion this year, which is a 4.8 per cent increase from last year.

The budget also predicts modest economic growth, if nothing near the pre-recession boom.

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In financial documents the government noted higher royalties, lower operating costs in the oil industry and a slight comeback in corporate income tax as growing sources of revenue.

The province also expects oil prices to hover around $55 US per barrel this year, and then grow to $59 US per barrel in 2018 and $68 US in 2019.

There was also a strong growth in bitumen production this year, which saw a 32.5 per cent increase.

Money from the carbon levy is also expected to bring in more than $1.7 billion over the course of three years.

Provincial debt is expected to grow to $71.1 billion by 2019, and the deficit will shrink to $7.2 billion in three years.

Employment grew by 0.9 per cent this year, bringing the unemployment rate to 8 per cent.

However, the provincial population continues to grow. The province anticipates a 1.3 per cent growth in population, most of which will come from immigration.

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