Of course when the provincial government unveils an annual report with a $263 million deficit increase, Albertans are going to be concerned.
The report for 2016-17 was unveiled June 29 and topped the province’s debt off at $10.8 billion (see story on page seven). That’s a lot of debt. Which, of course, is concerning to taxpayers.
On the other hand, Minister of Finance Joe Ceci said the increase is largely due to the wildfires in Fort McMurray, which forced the evacuation of the city’s residents in May 2016.
The displacement of those tens of thousands of residents cost the province a lot of money. In fact, Ceci said it was the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.
The oil price collapse is also responsible for the deficit increase. Ceci said it cost the province roughly $100 million in lost revenue.
Alberta Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean called the deficit increase a budget disaster and said 2016-17 marks the worst year on the books in Alberta’s history.
We don’t like an increasing deficit either, and sure there are other things the province could be doing better, but this past year brought a few surprises no one could have seen coming.