Alberta will lose $6 to $7 billion out of a $40 billion provincial budget if oil prices stay in the range of $60 per barrel, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice told the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce yesterday.
“A return to extremely volatile energy prices has created conditions that we cannot ignore,” he said. “Clearly, it makes it more challenging to balance the budget even in this fiscal year, let alone the fiscal year that we’re facing.”
With oil prices around $100 per barrel over the summer, Alberta had projected a $1.1 billion budget surplus. Now, Prentice is hunting for cost savings and promising to keep future spending increases below the combination of inflation and population growth.
“I would have liked to have seen (Prentice) deliver his cautious, prudent message of impending austerity to any one of the number of very wealthy and privileged Albertans who have been benefiting from our flat tax and low (oil) royalty regime for so many years,” responded provincial NDP leader Rachel Notley.