Finance Minister Travis Toews (YourAlberta, Youtube)
While details remain limited, Finance Minister and Grande Prairie—Wapiti MLA Travis Toews says another financial update is on the horizon, and the picture isn’t as rosy as he’d like.
“I’ll be frank. For the current budget year we are in right now, we will not see the revenues that we were projecting back in February when we presented the budget to the house.”
Toews says the projections used to build the budget in February, which were showing around $58 a barrel U.S. for West Texas Intermediate, were credible. However, the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prior collapse of oil prices has prompted a re-shuffle.
“Even though they’ve recovered to $40, which is very good news, we will not average $58 this year, or at least it’s very unlikely. We’re expecting probably billions of dollars in reduced revenues this year.”
Toews says one part of the ongoing Alberta Economy Recovery Plan, which earmarked an additional $1.9 billion in various infrastructure projects to help try and kick start lock economies, will see the addition of sector-specific strategies. Toewssuggests they’ll begin rolling out in the near future.
“Those will be for sectors such as agriculture, tourism, tech, and others, sectors that we believe have a great future in the province,” he says. “We’re just wanting to ensure we have the most competitive business environment possible for those sectors, we believe diversification is incredibly important.”
According to the province, the total of Alberta’s debt, as of March 31, 2019, sat at $85.9 billion.