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High-flying oil and gas prices paint a rosier shade of red ink on Alberta budget

Surge in oil and gas prices has helped Alberta
FILE - Alberta Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board Travis Toews delivers the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON — Alberta’s budget outlook for this year is turning a rosier shade of red ink, with jobs up, the deficit down and oil and gas prices humming along at unexpectedly high levels.

Finance Minister Travis Toews says the deficit is now expected to be $5.8 billion when the government closes the books on the 2021 fiscal year next March 31.

That is a third of the $18.2-billion deficit Toews predicted when he tabled the budget back in February.

Since then, Alberta’s resource-driven economy has sailed higher than expected with demand increasing as the global economy emerges from COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

Total revenue from non-renewable resources is expected to be almost $11 billion, an $8-billion leap from what was predicted nine months ago in the budget.

The unemployment rate is forecast at almost nine per cent — down from about 11 per cent in 2021 — and it is expected to keep dropping to under six per cent by 2024.