Alberta debt officially paid off

This is a landmark day for Alberta's finances as the province officially pays off the last of its debt.

Final $196-million payment made on Friday

This is a landmark day for Alberta’s finances as the province officially pays off the last of its debt.

On Friday, the provincial government writes the last cheque to pay back more than $22 billion in debt incurred by the Lougheed, Getty and Klein governments. 

Almost all of that debt was run up between 1982 and 1992, when oil prices crashed.

The final payment is $196 million. 

The money comes from a debt retirement account set up by Premier Klein almost 10 years ago. 

Most Albertans were led to believe no debt existed, said Derek Fildebrandt, the Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

"I think people would be shocked to learn that there was still outstanding debt but guess what? We should also be shocked to learn the government took out bonds to fund certain infrastructure projects just in the last few months and they're going to be billions more in the coming years," he said.

The new borrowing comes as the province’s sustainability fund runs out, Fildebrandt added.

"[It] will be completely drained and the government will now be financing its operations through debt," he said.

High penalty charges were the key reason debt wasn't paid off by government sooner.

The interest rate on the final government loan taken out in 1993 was over nine per cent.

We'll know the provincial government's future plans when the budget is released next week.

The Redford government will bring down its budget next Thursday.

Finance Minister Doug Horner expects this year's deficit to reach between $3.5 billion and $4 billion, up nearly $1 billion from the last quarterly update.