Joe Ceci stands by $10.4B budget deficit despite rising oil prices
Finance minister says oil's climb means 'good things for our budget,' but not a smaller deficit
Alberta's budget forecast remains at a bleak $10.4-billion deficit even with the recent rise in oil prices, says Alberta's finance minister.
At Joe Ceci's last budget update on Feb. 24, the price of West Texas Intermediate — the main North American contract — was hovering at $30 US a barrel. By Thursday, it was trading above $40 US.
"We have built in ... a price for oil forecasts going forward," said Joe Ceci.
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"If this current increase in oil continues, then I think that would mean good things for our budget — meaning we wouldn't see the deficit increase, and we wouldn't have to go into more debt to maintain important services that Albertans rely on."
Ceci also said that the government is sticking to its plan to bring in a carbon tax effective January 2017, the details of which will be "rolled out as a piece of legislation after the budget."
Ceci said he does not think Albertans are dissatisfied with the way the NDP is handling the downturn, despite recent survey results.
An Insights West poll out Friday suggests that two-thirds of Albertans believe Premier Rachel Notley's NDP government will be ousted in the 2019 provincial election.
"That poll is probably not worth very much ... and not indicative of the work we're doing."
With files from CBC News Calgary