According to the Alberta minister of Finance, the province is operating on a $2.5 billion operational surplus as of the end of the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
Finance Minister Doug Horner, in a press conference in Edmonton, said that the government was able to end the fiscal year on an operational surplus even with the volatile oil prices in the province, and the flooding that the southern part of the province saw last year.
“We overcame many challenges last year— energy volatility, continued global economic uncertainty and of course the southern Alberta flooding,” Horner said. “These events all had impacts on the lives of Albertans and on the province’s bottom line. That said, our strong balance sheet and surplus position show we have turned a corner financially.
“Albertans can be confident this government will continue to focus on fiscal responsibility, building needed infrastructure and investing in core services like health, education and support for the vulnerable.”
Horner laid out the reasons the province was in a fiscally positive position in his half hour news conference at the end of June. Stating that with the economy continuing to expand, creating thousands of jobs and drawing ever more people to the province, the economic growth rate is estimated to be 3.9 per cent for 2013, which is the fourth consecutive year above three per cent.
Horner said that the growth in the province is due to the increase of population that has come from around Canada and other parts of the world.
“The global economy remains very uncertain, yet Alberta continues to rise above the crowd,” Horner said. “The bottom line is that we are the economic engine of Canada and will continue to be the province of choice for people who want a better future.”
Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke said the news Horner announced shows that the government is doing positive things to manage the economy.
“We are pleased that the economy remains strong, and revenues were higher than expected and expenses were carefully controlled over the last fiscal year, those are both positive things.
“We will continue to work carefully to make sure that we do the best thing we can do to manage the economy.”
The moving forward into the next fiscal year, which began on July 1, Starke said the government will continue on its path forward to ensure that the work that was accomplished last year doesn’t get undone.
“Really, the plan in the budget has not changed because of this operational surplus. Obviously, we are please and it shows our economy is on a strong footing,” he said.
“To make any new major spending commitments would be certainly imprudent at this time. So we are going to be staying the course.”
Starke said the 2014 budget plan clearly lays out the government’s plan for Albertans.
“It highlights what we are going to be investing in terms of infrastructure and that we are also going to be saving. These are things that Albertans have told us repeatedly that they want, and we are going to deliver on those,” he said.
According to Starke the main message that Albertans should take from the Minister press conference is that Alberta economy remains very strong.
“Our provincial budget is a document that we can be very proud of, and we remain committed to the commitments that we made through the budgetary process.”