People ‘grieving’ lost prosperity as Alberta government sells deficit budget

EDMONTON — Albertans are “grieving” the loss of years of oil-fuelled prosperity as they come to terms with the need for a budget with a multibillion-dollar deficit, Finance Minister Iris Evans said Wednesday.

EDMONTON — Albertans are “grieving” the loss of years of oil-fuelled prosperity as they come to terms with the need for a budget with a multibillion-dollar deficit, Finance Minister Iris Evans said Wednesday.

The fall from grace after years of huge surpluses isn’t easy for anyone, including the government, she acknowledged a day after tabling a budget that includes a $4.7-billion shortfall.

“It’s not easy because I look around at the faces of people and they don’t want to do that,” she said after a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

“I think the whole thought of Alberta having to spend from its emergency savings, and even borrowing, was one that we really grieved at the start, because you don’t expect to have that.

“We had been so used to being so buoyed up by such a wonderful economy.”

One of Evan’s first stops on her post-budget sales trip was an appearance on the Dave Rutherford talk show on Calgary radio station CHQR.

Callers gave her a rough ride over the shortfall and the government’s plan to still spend $23 billion over three years catching up on building projects.

“You guys are losing interest of the public in Alberta here. You better smarten up,” said a caller identified as Greg.

A subsequent caller identified as Roy compared Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach to the socialist president of Venezuela and the province to disgraced American energy company Enron.

“I believe you’re spending our money foolishly. You haven’t saved, you haven’t prepared us for the future and you guys should be gone,” said the caller.

Evans conceded that the government might have some explaining to do to upset constituents.

People may not understand that the money to make up the deficit is coming from the province’s $7-billion Sustainability Fund and no one is going hat-in-hand to the bank, she said.

“Clearly, if we can’t sell this budget, some people will feel that the sky is falling in Alberta and we’re not willing to do the right thing.”

Stelmach insisted in the legislature Wednesday that the province is “on the right track” with the budget, and said he hasn’t heard any complaints.

Total spending in 2009-10 is pegged at $36.4 billion, slightly down from last year’s figure.

Despite the deficit, that even keel shows Alberta is following a moderate approach to a global economic crisis, said Michael Gregory, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets.

Drastic cuts and tax hikes to balance a budget during tough economic times have shown in the past to make things worse, he said.

“I think they’ve taken a middle-of-the-road approach and given the uncertainty and volatility that could be a very prudent approach.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Three patients dead: Edmonton hospital declares full COVID-19 outbreak

EDMONTON — A hospital in Edmonton is no longer admitting patients due… Continue reading

CMHC reports annual pace of housing starts in Canada increased in June

OTTAWA — Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the annual pace of… Continue reading

Trump forgoes insults of past, calls Mexico cherished friend

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, who has denigrated Mexican migrants and threatened… Continue reading

Federal website advertising hundreds of non-existent student-volunteer positions

OTTAWA — The federal website advertising volunteer positions for students hoping to… Continue reading

Westerner Park gets up to $2 million from city

By then, city officials hopes more revenue-generating events will be allowed to run

Fateful meeting has Vancouver’s Stuart Macdonald on Korn Ferry Tour

Stuart Macdonald wasn’t quite sure what Golf Canada’s Derek Ingram wanted to… Continue reading

Oprah, Lionsgate to help adapt The 1619 Project for film, TV

Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate are partnering with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones… Continue reading

Sheriff: ‘Glee’ actor Naya Rivera missing in California lake

LOS ANGELES — A Southern California lake will be closed while they… Continue reading

Grizzly bears in the dark as they try to share living space with humans: study

Grizzly bears in the dark as they try to share living space with humans: study

‘You haunt my dreams:’ Sex assault victim confronts ex-nightclub worker in court

‘You haunt my dreams:’ Sex assault victim confronts ex-nightclub worker in court

Alberta bill proposes major changes to union strike rules and funding

Alberta bill proposes major changes to union strike rules and funding

Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

Most Read