Premier Alison Redford and health minister Fred Horne speak to the media regarding a lawsuit that the province will be filing against tobacco manufacturers to recover health care costs associated with smoking-related illnesses at the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton on Wednesday, May 30, 2012.
Credits: CODIE MCLACHLAN/EDMONTON SUN QMI AGENCY
CALGARY - Despite declining oil prices, Alberta's premier said her government will still have a budget surplus.
Alison Redford spoke to reporters following a caucus meeting in Calgary on Wednesday and said dips in oil prices shouldn't affect balancing the budget. The Tories budgeted for oil at $99.5/barrel, said Redford, and the average price year-to-date is $98.30/barrel.
"We see these fluctuations in our budgets, we see these fluctuations in oil prices," she said. "We're confident that we can stick to our fiscal plan."
Redford said oil prices will always change and there's no need to overreact.
"We are not a caucus that's going to run around saying, 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling,'" said the premier, adding it's important to stick to the party's plan. "We'll always be responsive to change. We're sensitive to change."
When asked if she was still be able to balance the budget, Redford said the Tories are committed to a surplus and she's confident they will have one.
But official Opposition leader Danielle Smith expressed doubt.
"There's no plan B. They have no plan for how to balance the budget. They have no plan for how to deal with declining energy prices," argued Smith.
"They're still hoping that energy prices are going to bail them out of the problem, as it has in the past, but I don't think it's going to happen this year."
The Wildrose leader said the problem is bigger than has been suggested.
"She claims there's a $1-billion shortfall. That's just on the operating side," said Smith of Redford.
"There's also a $2-billion shortfall on the capital side, so they're already short $3 billion this year.
"If these low prices hold for the rest of the year, it's going to blow another $2-$3 billion under their budget."
Smith questioned how, with declining oil prices, the premier will balance the budget while staying true to "expensive" campaign promises regarding family care clinics and schools.