The NDP government’s first quarter update officially puts Alberta back into a net debt position for the first time in nearly two decades and continues to make things worse by dragging down Alberta’s economy and hurting working families, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.
Alberta’s net debt is expected to plummet by $14.5 billion, with Alberta’s contingency fund set to vanish this year. The last time Alberta was in a net debt position was 1999, and by 2008 our net financial assets peaked at nearly $40 billion in the black.
Albertans are being squeezed further when managing their personal budgets. Despite oil trending higher than expected, wages are down 3 per cent this year, with Albertans set to be hit hard in their pocket books with a new $3 billion carbon tax set to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
“Today is the end of the fiscal legacy Albertans worked so hard to earn. The NDP’s plan is making things worse for Alberta families at a time we can least afford it,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “It’s clear the NDP plan isn’t working. We need to reverse course on the NDP’s risky economic agenda, start saving pennies on every dollar spent across government and restore the Alberta Advantage so we can get Albertans working again.”
Borrowing will top $12 billion, one quarter of total provincial spending for the entire year. This will mean taxpayers will be paying over $1 billion in interest payments on government debt this year alone. Wildrose released a simple 10-point $2 billion budget savings plan that would get Alberta back on track to balanced budgets by targeting bureaucratic waste, implementing a hiring and wage freeze across government and a comprehensive program review to streamline spending to front line services.
“The hard-won legacy of Ralph Klein has been picked apart by governments for a decade now, and it has culminated in today, with our net debt position once again outweighing the Heritage Fund and all of our other financial assets,” Wildrose Shadow Finance Minister Derek Fildebrandt said. “There is no attempt whatsoever to save money or begin to steer us back to balance. Instead, the NDP continue to raise taxes and rack up debt that fuel credit downgrades every few months. It’s time the NDP to go back to the drawing board and accept at least some of our proposals for fiscal sanity.”