CALGARY — Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Prentice cited the legacy of former premier Peter Lougheed as he promised again to double the size of the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund over the next 10 years.
Prentice noted that previous Tory governments lost their way with the $17-billion fund and he wants to return it to its original purpose — saving revenues for future generations.
“When (Lougheed) was a young man he worked for a time in a place called Tulsa, Okla., and he saw what happened to that community when the oil resources were spent and the economy was in decline,” Prentice said Friday.
“And Peter Lougheed vowed that would never happen in our Alberta. There are those who think our resources are infinite and our energy resources are endless and the dollars that we receive are endless.
“The truth is our resources are not endless and the abundance of them isn’t the only factor we need to consider.”
For decades the Alberta government has been skimming the investment income earned from the fund and transferring it to general revenues for program spending.
Under Prentice’s plan, which was first announced in last month’s budget, 25 per cent of all provincial energy revenues would be saved in the Heritage Fund starting in 2019-2020.
Prentice said that should double the size of the fund by 2024-2025.
“We will reduce our dependency on energy revenue by year four and five. We will have that dependency down to 50 per cent, which is the appropriate balance,” said Prentice.
“If we carry forward on that basis we will have the Heritage Fund at a figure like $30 billion by year 10 and after that it will really start to accelerate.”
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean announced a financial blueprint Thursday in which he promised to slash management jobs in government and health care, defer some capital projects and avoid tax hikes to balance the budget by 2017.
Prentice said with a $7 billion revenue shortfall this year and $6 billion next year that just isn’t realistic.
“Who are they proposing to cut? They talk about cutting infrastructure … which communities are they planning to cut those projects in and who are they talking about cutting in terms of front line services?”