Debt clock ticking again, to make visit

If you thought the numbers on your digital thermometer were high this week, wait until you see the big numbers coming to Central Alberta next week.

If you thought the numbers on your digital thermometer were high this week, wait until you see the big numbers coming to Central Alberta next week.

From July 14-19, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) will bring its own version of a thermometer around Alberta, one that quantifies its growing anger at the province’s fiscal situation.

The CTF resuscitated its Alberta Debt Clock earlier this year and will be bringing it in physical form to the people next week.

Its provincial tour will include stops in Stettler, Lacombe, Ponoka, Wetaskiwin, Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House.

In bringing the clock back in January, the advocacy group lamented the fact that Alberta has gone from a position of being debt-free five years ago to having $7.74 billion in debt.

On Tuesday, the count stood at $9.81 billion with the numbers rising at a rate of $129.25 per second.

The CTF uses the definition of debt from the Klein-era Fiscal Responsibility Act to calculate its debt tally. That particular act was repealed by the government in 2013.

While the government calls its new approach of separately compiling and presenting operating and capital surpluses and deficits more effective, Alberta Auditor General Merwan Saher has criticized the practice, calling it needlessly complicated.

In a report released Tuesday, Saher again called on the government to change how it presents its numbers to the public.

The 12-foot clock is scheduled to be at Stettler Registry Services at 4:45 p.m. on July 15 and in Lacombe, Ponoka and Wetaskiwin the next day. The clock will be at the Lacombe Memorial Centre at 10 a.m. and at the latter two communities’ town halls at 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., respectively.

On July 19, it will be stationed at Red Deer City Hall at 10 a.m. and outside the Rocky Mountain House provincial building at 12:30 p.m.

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