Alberta NDP warns that oil's continued slide could delay campaign promises

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says her government is "tremendously concerned" about the ongoing slump in oil prices, acknowledging that it could force the NDP to cut spending in their spring budget and delay election campaign promises.

Campaign promises could be delayed as oil revenue dries up, says environment minister

Shannon Phillips told reporters everything is on the table as the government puts together its spring budget. (CBC)

Alberta's NDP government warns that it could cut spending in the upcoming spring budget and delay election campaign promises last spring, as crude oil prices continue to slide.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said her government is "tremendously concerned" about the ongoing slump in oil prices. 

"It's possible that all of us ministers have projects or initiatives that will be delayed as a result," she said at the opening of the Conference Board of Canada's annual oil and gas summit Monday night in Calgary.

"Everything is certainly on the table with respect to how we make our budget deliberations and we will move forward carefully and prudently."

The government's fall budget forecast oil prices at $50 US a barrel this year and $61 US in 2016-17. Currently, prices sit just above $30 US a barrel. 

You can't build an economy on one commodity- Shannon Phillips, Alberta environment minister

"It has certainly given us pause with respect to our projects for budget '16," she said.

Just last month Standard and Poor's downgraded Alberta's credit rating, citing concerns with the province's weak revenue forecasts and its growing debt burden.

Phillips said the drop in crude prices shows why Alberta can't rely so much on oil and gas.

"You can't build an economy on one commodity," said Phillips. "What is important here is this is a very, very tough time for Calgarians, in particular, and for Albertans, and it demonstrates the need to diversify the economy."

Oil and gas summit

Phillips tried to strike an optimistic tone at the oil and gas summit by saying Alberta could still thrive under these difficult economic circumstances.

In the crowd was PC Party interim leader Ric McIver, who is concerned about the impact oil will have on the government's debt.

"The low price of oil actually is what requires a reality check on behalf of the government, to manage their spending in such a fashion that the debt remains in control. I didn't hear any concern about that this evening."

Phillips says the government will commit to spending on infrastructure, job creation, diversification, skilled trades and post-secondary education.

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