Last week’s quarterly fiscal update painted a bleak picture for Albertans, and shone a light on how poorly this NDP government is managing our province.
Debt-servicing costs have soared to a whopping $1.4 billion annually as the NDP continues to rely on debt to pay its bills, including for operations. That $1.4 billion is about the same as the entire annual budget for the Justice and Solicitor General Ministry – talk about mismanagement. The NDP now has Alberta on track for $94 billion of red ink by 2020. Paying this money back will come at a tremendous cost for future generations and core services like education and health care.
Tax revenues, meanwhile, have cratered as businesses continue to close their doors and workers continue to lose their jobs. Since the NDP took office in 2015, our province has seen a net loss of 22,500 good, full-time jobs. The pain will continue as the unintended consequences of the government’s minimum wage, carbon tax and accelerated coal phase out policies take hold in our communities.
Then there’s the case of the missing $648 million of government revenue. Finance Minister Joe Ceci had the gall to blame this on bad oil forecasts he laid out in the spring budget, when we’ve been warning him for months that his oil forecasts were far too high. He wishfully believed that WTI would average $55 this year. Not only has WTI failed to average $55 this year, but it hasn’t even hit $55 since 2015. Any common sense Albertan could have advised Mr. Ceci to prepare for another year of lackluster oil prices, but he thought he knew better. Naturally, Mr. Ceci and the NDP used more borrowed money to fill the shortfall this mistake left in the government’s pocketbook.
With low oil prices continuing to wreak havoc on our economy, the NDP is making a bad situation worse, and international credit rating agencies are once again taking notice.
Following the update, credit rating agency DBRS said it is prepared to downgrade Alberta again if the NDP continues down the path its on. Alberta’s credit rating has already been downgrade five times in just two years under the NDP’s reckless borrow-and-spend plan. A sixth downgrade would hammer borrowing rates for municipalities and the province, creating countless negative spinoff effects for ordinary Alberta families.
To add insult to injury, Mr. Ceci tried to sugarcoat this laundry list of bad news and claim the NDP’s plan is working. He is truly alone in this thinking, except for maybe his NDP colleagues.
This fiscal update was only painting a bleak picture of the here and now in 2017. The NDP continue to claim they will be able to budget in the future, with absolutely no plan or numbers to back up how this could ever be possible. They are content to saddle future generations of Albertans with their reckless fiscal policies.
The NDP just doesn’t get it. They consistently put ideology before common sense. They see no issue with a $10.8 billion deficit or $94 billion of debt. They’re unmoved by the fact Albertans are losing work and businesses are closing everywhere you go. As Calgary Herald columnist Chris Nelson put it, “Alberta is blissfully flushing its future down the toilet.”
The United Conservative Party is committed to offering Albertans a better choice in 2019. While we are committed to holding this government to account for its disastrous fiscal record, we’re also eager to present positive solutions to get our books back to balance and show the investment community that Alberta is once again open for business.
Nathan Cooper is the Interim Leader of the United Conservative Party