Jason Nixon, Finance Minister and Rimbey- Rocky Mountain House- Sundre MLA said Tuesday that the province is pleased with its economic bounce back in the 2021-22 fiscal year. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Jason Nixon, Finance Minister and Rimbey- Rocky Mountain House- Sundre MLA said Tuesday that the province is pleased with its economic bounce back in the 2021-22 fiscal year. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Red Deer South MLA is high on Red Deer’s future as Alberta revenues get unexpected lift

Instead of a predicted deficit, Alberta’s end-of-fiscal-year budget sees a surplus

For the first time in seven years, Alberta’s provincial budget is back in the black — and Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan believes the Red Deer region will soon begin reaping the benefits of a stronger economy.

Sky-high oil prices have created some welcome budgetary whiplash in the province: Alberta ended the 2021-22 fiscal year on March 31 with a $3.9 billion surplus, instead of the $18.2 billion deficit that was predicted during the depths of the pandemic.

“I’m thrilled and feel so grateful to have a balanced budget that improves our capacity to pay for public services and strengthens our economic competitiveness,” allowing Albertans to benefit from continued low tax rates, said Stephan.

While the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ensuing volatility in the global fuel supply chain have sent prices soaring, adding to Alberta’s revenues, experts believe higher oil prices are here to stay for the foreseeable future, said Stephan.

“That’s what I’m hearing, that there’s a structural issue with supply and demand, and the imbalance is going to remain for a number of years.”

A lot of oil companies are now ramping up production, having previously dialled it back after being told their product is unwanted in the new alternative fuel economy, added Stephan. “But the reality is we will need oil and gas in the short-to-medium term…”

While the Red Deer area had the highest unemployment rate in the province this spring, the local MLA believes the natural advantages this city has will soon be recognized as lofty oil prices begin encouraging more investment.

“Central Alberta has such as strategic competitive advantage,” being central, having good amenities, a younger population, and Red Deer Polytechnic providing more skills training, he added.

While there’s still more work to do to restore the local economy, and Stephan feels the federal government isn’t doing enough to help, “central Alberta is an entrepreneurial, awesome place and I think things are looking up.”

The financial windfall “is great news,” he added.

Alberta Finance Minister and Rimbey- Rocky Mountain House- Sundre MLA Jason Nixon said on Tuesday that he wants to use these unexpected revenues to build up the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund, while also looking at ways to help Albertans get through this inflationary time.

Nixon maintained he will be a cautious spender since there’s a need to save for when oil prices fall in future.

“Most Albertans have witnessed volatile resource revenues before and dealt with the fallout when governments went right out and spent excessive revenues as soon as they had it,” said Nixon.

“The fact is what goes up will come down.

“That’s why we have focused on savings for the future to reduce the burden of debt to make life more affordable for Albertans.”

Red Deer North MLA and Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was unavailable for comment.

-With files from The Canadian Press



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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Alberta budget

 

Jason Nixon, Finance Minister and Rimbey- Rocky Mountain House- Sundre MLA announced that Alberta ended the 2021-22 fiscal year with $3.9 billion surplus, instead of the $18.2 billion deficit that was expected. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Jason Nixon, Finance Minister and Rimbey- Rocky Mountain House- Sundre MLA announced that Alberta ended the 2021-22 fiscal year with $3.9 billion surplus, instead of the $18.2 billion deficit that was expected. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

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