Alberta’s latest fiscal update to be released Tuesday

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Finance Minister Travis Toews is expected to release the latest fiscal update Tuesday morning to give Albertans a glimpse at the state of the province’s books.

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On Monday, Toews told reporters that the update, which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., will show an “improved fiscal picture” for the province while still acknowledging the “uncertainty and volatility” of the current situation.

In the last fiscal update released in August, Alberta’s deficit was forecast at $7.8 billion, $10.5 billion lower than the outlook reported in February’s budget.

At the time, West Texas Intermediate oil was forecasted to average US$65.50 per barrel — $19 higher than in the budget — bumping the province’s resource revenues to $9.8 billion.

As of Monday afternoon, West Texas Intermediate sat at US$70.06.

Toews said that while the rise in oil prices is good news for the province, the fiscal update will discuss recovery across a broad number of sectors.

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“We’re seeing improved investment attraction across many key sectors in the province,” he said.

NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips said she expects the update to look better than last quarter, due in part to the increased price of oil — something that is out of the province’s control.

She criticized the government for not doing more to help people with their day-to-day costs as inflation increased the cost of living across the province, pointing to the 2019 decision to de-index income tax so that it is not linked to inflation and similar moves with AISH and other supports.

“Jason Kenney is making Christmas more stressful, and there’s no need for it,” she said.

Toews said he recognizes that inflation is causing cost pressures.

“Our argument right now is that we need to really focus on the economy, we need to do all we can to attract investment into this province, and the good news is it’s happening. It’s happening right now in a very significant way,” he said.

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