CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - March 16, 2017) - The Alberta government today released its 2017 budget, and with it has squandered another opportunity to take corrective action and turn the province's finances around.
"The current government inherited a difficult situation, but this budget is the third in a row that fails to address any of the province's serious fiscal challenges," said Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.
The provincial budget forecasts a $10.3 billion deficit and continues a trend of big spending and big deficits.
Between 2004/05 and 2015/16, program spending in Alberta grew at an annual average rate of 7.1 per cent, even though government revenues only increased 4.6 per cent a year, on average. This spending growth is the primary reason for Alberta's fiscal problems today.
And today's budget proposes to add a total of $35 billion in new debt (after accounting for financial assets) over the next three years. As a result, interest payments will more than double, meaning more public resources will go to servicing the debt and not to the programs Albertans value.
"The government is continuing down the path of undisciplined spending despite a large budget deficit -- this only leads to more debt, increased interest payments and higher taxes in the future," said Ben Eisen, director of the Fraser Institute's Alberta Prosperity Initiative.
Charles Lammam, Director, Fiscal Studies (in Edmonton)
Ben Eisen, Director, Alberta Prosperity Initiative
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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org