Coronavirus May Force Government to Ditch Balanced-Budget Plan: Alberta Premier

EDMONTON—Premier Jason Kenney says the novel coronavirus outbreak is hammering Albertas economy and may force his government to abandon its core election promise to balance the books by 2023.

“It does appear, based on all evidence right now, that there is a significant global economic downturn beginning right now,” Kenney said on March 6 at an announcement in Morinville, Alta.

“We Albertans are not an island. It is frustrating after five years of economic decline and stagnation, just as I think we were ready to see significant growth in 2020, to see this global downturn from the coronavirus.”

Asked if the outbreak could affect his promise to balance the budget within two years, he replied: “If there is a major, prolonged global downturn, that would obviously affect our plan to get to balance in that time frame.”

Balancing the budget in their first term was one of the top commitments from Kenneys United Conservatives in last Aprils election.

The UCP defeated Rachel Notleys NDP by promising better money management, more jobs, and economic growth. But Alberta has lost thousands more jobs while waiting for new pipeline projects to come online.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Premier-Designate Jason Kenney and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley meet in Edmonton on April 18, 2019. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Notley, now Opposition leader, said while the COVID−19 outbreak has had an impact, reality is simply coming home to roost for the United Conservatives.

“Jason Kenneys plan to balance the budget by 2022−23 was always based on a collection of fantasyland numbers,” Notley said at the legislature.

“It looks to me like hes going to try to use this particular set of circumstances as cover for the fact that he introduced a budget that was absolutely not attainable.

“Lets be clear: theyve introduced two budgets with deficits that are larger than the last budget that we actually delivered.”

Albertas deficit is $7.5 billion this year and is projected to be $6.8 billion in 2020−21.

The budget introduced last week is based on West Texas Intermediate, the North American benchmark for oil, averaging $58 USD a barrel. Its currently sitting around $42 a barrel. Every one dollar reduction takes $200 million out of Albertas budget.

Kenney said his government will manage the situation by continuing to keep spending flat on health and education, by trying to find savings, and by reducing operational spending.

“All we can do is manage what is within our controlRead More – Source

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