Economically, Alberta has lots to celebrate
By Joe Ceci, Minister of Finance and MLA for Calgary-Fort
Our economy is recovering. There’s more to do to make sure that recovery reaches everyone, but the signs we’re seeing are good ones. Drilling activity is up. Retail sales are up. Manufacturing and construction are up. In fact, nearly every economic indicator that should be up is up.
The Bank of Montreal, TD Bank, RBC and most recently the Conference Board of Canada are all forecasting our economy will grow more than four per cent this year. Alberta will lead the country in growth this year and we’re expected to do the same next year.
Since mid-2016, we have added over 70,000 full-time jobs, mostly in the private sector. This is all good news and it shows our plan is working.
We had a choice: Follow the recession or lead the recovery; give more people pink slips or give them hammers, lab coats and laptops. We chose to lead. That means we invested in Alberta, building badly needed infrastructure like the new cancer centre in Calgary, the Green Line LRT and better highways, roads and bridges across the province - all of which create good jobs for people and build Alberta for the future.
The panicked, knee-jerk cuts demanded by Jason Kenney and the UCP would have stunted Alberta‘s recovery and hurt Albertans more.
So what does our improving economy mean as we begin the task of preparing the 2018 budget in earnest? It means we don’t have to risk the recovery underway by embracing reckless cuts. But we do have to take meaningful steps down the path to balance, as we said we would.
That’s why we recently expanded a salary freeze for management and nonunion employees through to September 2019. We’re also expanding its scope - from the core public service to the government’s extended agencies, boards and commissions. Finally, we are freezing the size of the Alberta public service. These steps alone will save more than $100 million.
We will continue the hard work of finding savings. And while we have already found $750 million in savings this year without firing thousands of teachers and nurses, we know that more work needs to be done.
That’s why I look forward to receiving Albertans’ input on our path to balance.
I want to hear from them on where they think we can tighten our belts further and where their priorities are in terms of services we should protect.
This all with one Alberta value in mind: Quality education and health care should not depend on the price of oil.
We cannot choose the price of oil. But we can choose our response to it and we chose well. The recovery that’s underway is helped by the choices we made. Now we have more choices to make.
As we consult about the 2018 budget, I look forward to hearing from Albertans and I invite all Albertans to contribute by visiting budget.alberta.ca to give feedback.
Alberta‘s economy is looking up. There are those who still talk the economy down, who hope for Alberta‘s failure for their own political gain. Albertans deserve better.
We will continue to lead the recovery where some would have followed. Alberta is back in the saddle.
I’m pleased to be able to deliver this good news and I look forward to more positive news in the months to come. Albertans are working, more Albertans are setting up shop and more companies are investing in our great province and choose to call it home.
Alberta remains a great place to live, work and do business.