With election looming, Alberta announces budget on track for $6.9B deficit

EDMONTON — Alberta is on track for a $6.9-billion budget deficit amid speculation voters will go to the polls this spring before a new budget is introduced.

The budget had originally forecast a deficit of $8.8 billion, but Finance Minister Joe Ceci says a lower dollar and higher than expected bitumen royalties have helped reduce the red ink.

Ceci released the numbers as part of a third-quarter update for the current fiscal year.

Total revenue this year is forecast at $49.6 billion and total expenses at $56.6 billion.

Ceci has not confirmed whether his department will present a budget before the spring election call.

However the update contained long-term projections for deficit reduction, which are normally found in budgets, along with charts detailing what the NDP government has been doing to combat the downturn in oil prices.

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