Province reports $10.3 billion deficit in second-quarter fiscal update, but also seeing signs of recovery

By CHAT News Today
November 28, 2017 - 1:02pm

EDMONTON — The provincial government says there are signs of a rebound in the provincial economy, even as a deficit is still in the financial forecast.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci presented the second quarter fiscal update for 2017 Tuesday morning in Edmonton. According to the update, the government expects the economy to grow by 4 per cent in 2017, up from the 2.6 per cent forecast presented when budget 2017 was tabled and 3.1 per cent in the first quarter.

“For the second time this year, we are upgrading our economic growth projections for 2017,” Ceci said in a news release. “With the recession behind us, Alberta’s economy has returned to growth. As we look ahead to Budget 2018, I look forward to hearing Albertans’ thoughts on how we can continue to make life better for Albertans while compassionately tightening our belt and returning responsibly and carefully to balance without extreme and risky cuts.”

According to the update, the province has added more than 70,000 full-time jibs since the middle of 2016, with the majority in the private sector. Ceci adds retail sales have recovered to pre-recession levels, and drilling activity has also increased.

The government announced a salary freeze, created in early 2016, is being extended for management and non-union employees until Sept. 30, 2019, which it says will save approximately $100 million per year. Ceci also announced a hiring freeze is now in place, and says the government has found $300 million in savings so far this fiscal year. The savings have been found through administrative efficiencies and program demand adjustments.

However, the government is still forecasting a deficit. Ceci says the government’s current deficit for 2017/2018is $10.3 billion, down slightly from $10.5 billion earlier this year. In past years, the NDP government has said they’ve promised to balance the budget by 2023, but have offered no indication on how it would be achieved.

-With Files from the Canadian Press

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