Documents Obtained by CFIB Show Finance Minister Knows Ramifications of Recent Credit Downgrade

84% of entrepreneurs say no to debt financing; Albertans deserve to know costs

CALGARY August 10th 2016 – Documents obtained by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci is aware of the financial impact to the province of recent credit downgrades from AAA to AA+ but the government is refusing to disclose any of the details.

In a briefing note outlining advice to Minister Joe Ceci, the following questions were examined: What is the cost of the downgrade to our credit rating? How important are credit ratings to Alberta? Virtually all of the information is redacted and kept secret.

According to a recent CFIB survey of entrepreneurs in Alberta, 77 per cent say government debt and deficit should be a top priority for government. When asked if the Alberta government should raise its debt limit further (i.e. the maximum amount that it can borrow), 84 per cent said no, 8 per cent answered yes, and 8 per cent were undecided.

The Government of Alberta is increasing Alberta’s debt to almost 17 per cent of GDP within two years. “This government is making unwise decisions with our provinces’ finances and unduly burdening future generations with a rapidly growing debt load. Right now there is no credible plan to return to balance, even by the government’s own ridiculous 2024 timeline. Every dollar we spend servicing our debt is one less dollar we have to spend on essential government programs and services,” said Amber Ruddy, CFIB’s Alberta Director.

“Taxpayers have a right to know the true costs of the decision to take on more debt. Borrowing for capital projects is one thing, but now the day-to-day expenses of the government are being put on the province’s credit card.  Hardworking entrepreneurs are concerned Alberta’s once enviable financial position is gone and no meaningful action is being taken to get it back,” said Ruddy.

The two CFIB member surveys referenced above were conducted from January to March 2016 (750 responses) and April to May 2016 (1149 responses) respectively.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.