Alberta fiscal update expected dressed in red

Alberta's Finance Minister Doug Horner speaks in the opening remarks of the Alberta Economic Summit.



CALGARY -- Opposition parties expect the province's financial state to continue bleeding red as the PCs deliver an update Tuesday in Calgary.

Finance Minister Doug Horner will give the third-quarter financial update for the current fiscal year and the deficit could be in excess of $3 billion.

"It's clear (the PCs) deceived the public during the election on the size of the deficit," Wildrose Party MLA Rob Anderson said Monday.

"It's a damning indictment of the brutal financial mismanagement of the PCs over the last five to 10 years."

The government has recently said the low price of Alberta bitumen has cost the province billions in revenue, with Horner calling the situation a "perfect storm," and saying ministries were told to aggressively curb spending.

But Alberta relies too much on "volatile royalty revenues," NDP Leader Brian Mason said, adding the province should look for other alternatives such as eliminating a flat tax on personal incomes and raising the corporate tax rate.

"The government's failure to properly estimate its revenue has landed us in real hot water and a lot of people are going to pay the price for their negligence," he said.

Mason expects Tuesday's news to follow in the footsteps of the last two updates -- "a steadily rising deficit number."
Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said he expects to be disappointed, but not surprised by Tuesday's update.

"I'm saddened to see government giving this news of doom and gloom while really the economy is pretty darn good in Alberta right now," he said.

Sherman said he believes most Albertans would not be opposed to paying more taxes if they were guaranteed the money would not be wasted.

Several Tory MLAs contacted Monday were unavailable or declined comment.

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