Calgary, AB (February 24, 2016): Dr. David Swann says he was shocked by the potential for a $10 billion dollar deficit.
“It’s a definite shock,” Swann said. “We all knew the results of sustained low oil prices wouldn’t be pretty but $10 billion is a huge number.”
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci indicated Alberta’s deficit this year could run an additional $5 billion over top of the almost $5 billion already in the budget for a total of close to $10 billion dollars.
“It’s important not to panic in the face of these huge numbers,” Swann stated. “The knee-jerk reaction is to stop all government spending, reduce services and start laying people off. Unfortunately, that is unhelpful and probably damaging.”
“What really needs to happen is to encourage diverse economic growth while finding ways to deliver government services in a more cost efficient manner,” Swann continued. “The Liberals have already detailed changes in the delivery of Health Care as well as a change in the way we manage affordable housing. Both proposals would deliver better service and cost governments less.”
A long standing plank in the Liberal platform has been the elimination of small business tax. This would further diversify the economy and provide a much-needed boost to smaller firms who employ tens of thousands of Albertans. The loss in revenue would be more than offset by continued payment of income taxes from Albertans with secure jobs.
“The Provincial government can’t hide in fear. They must be courageous in the methods they use to combat this severe economic downturn,” Swann concluded.