With Alberta mired in the steepest economic decline since the early 1980s, two prominent Calgary entrepreneurs say the NDP government deserves a failing grade for its handling of the crisis.

On Tuesday, Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci delivered a quarterly financial update that forecasts the province's deficit will soar by $527 million to a record $10.9 billion in 2016-17.

The Eyeopener asked three Calgary business leaders how they would rate the leadership of Premier Rachel Notley's team — and what they would do differently.

"I'd give it an F. I think this is a failing government," said George Gosbee, chairman of the investment banking firm AltaCorp Capital Inc. and co-owner of the Arizona Coyotes.

Gosbee said the NDP's decision to hike the corporate tax rate is scaring off investment.

"I think they're doing everything the exact opposite of what they should be doing," he said. Instead, the NDP should introduce a sales tax, he said. 

"It's the best, most efficient tax to deal with our debt and deficit."

Jay Gohill, a founding partner of the software development firm Arcurve, also gives the government an F.

"Doing the same thing over and over again, or not doing anything at this point, doesn't seem to resonate with anybody," he said.

"A hike in corporate tax rates isn't exactly encouraging to business."

Manjit Minhas, CEO and co-founder of Minhas Micro Brewery, says the NDP deserves more credit for struggling to cope with an economic mess it didn't make.

"I'd give them a B, actually. I think that they are doing OK, given what they came in to," Minhas said.

"I think it's about Albertans taking control of their own future and not looking to the government to fix it all for you."


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener