2016 – Alberta Government Annual Report Ugh!

And even if time has passing me by a lot
I couldn’t care less about the dues you say I got
Tomorrow I’ll pay the dues for droppin’ my load
A pie in your face for bein’ a sleepy bulltoad – The Luvin Spoonful 1966

While Albertans were heading to the beer store or making last minute flag purchases for Canada Day the Alberta government released the annual report for 2015-16 operations. Remember, that’s the year we would mostly like to forget…. the recession – then the wildfires and now red ink!

The Finance Minister tried to put the best face he could on this bleak year. He would have us think our situation is like a prairie thunderstorm lots a rain but sunny days ahead. The Wildrose party seems to think government’s performance will condemn us to years of virtual January snowdrifts. The PC’s were just too preoccupied to respond to the budget.

So here how it looks:

  • The recession hit us hard, a contraction of 3.5% in gross domestic product

  • Migration resulted in population change of 1.2%

  • Total government expenses of $53.2 billion – up $4.1 billion from last year and almost $2 billion over budget

    • costs included the operating budget of $45 billion

    • climate change- $1.4 billion

    • debt servicing of $1.0 billion

    • Capital grants, disaster assistance and amortization made up the other $7.0 million

    • Government also had to book future liabilities for coal transition funds of $1.0 billion

  • Revenue was $42 billion just about $1.0 billion over the budget estimate

    • revenue was lower by $2.0 billion compared to last year because power companies abandoned uneconomic power contracts resulting from government’s climate change agenda

    • revenue was higher from some sources – resource and investment revenue and federal transfers

  • The deficit was $10.8 billion bringing the total debt to $33.3 billion!

The Ft McMurray wildfire had a very significant impact:

    • a hit to the economy of about 0.6%,

    • lower than expected royalties and taxes of $300 million,

    • Cost to government of $700 million in firefighting and support (the feds picked up $500 million of those costs)

Severely Normal Albertans can be just a bit relieved going forward.  The economy is improving slowly. But government performance is more that a little disheartening. Record level deficits, spending that exceeds budget in the midst of a recession – even when revenue was higher than budgeted. And still no realistic plan to tackle the deficits or debt. Frustrating huh?