Alberta now forecasting $1.4B budget surplus

Finance minister Doug Horner said the extra revenue is partly due to higher than expected royalties from oil and gas. But critics think the government is actually running a deficit
Finance Minister Doug Horner delivered his first quarter fiscal update in Edmonton on Wednesday. (CBC)

Alberta is forecasting a $1.4 billion surplus in a budget update released Wednesday.

The extra revenue is partly due to higher than expected royalties from oil and gas during the first quarter of the fiscal year.

In a news conference in Edmonton, Finance Minister Doug Horner said Alberta leads the country in economic growth.

“This growth is a reflection of a stronger than expected labour market, continued migration into the province, and accelerated activity in the business sector,” he said  “Growth is projected to remain strong this year and into the next.”

Critics claim the government is juggling the numbers to make the financial situation look better than it really is.

Derek Fildebrandt with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said he doesn’t believe Alberta has a surplus.

Fildebrandt said accountants who have reviewed the numbers have told him the government is actually running a projected deficit of $3.1 billion.

“Year after year we are hitting new resource revenue and total revenue records, yet year after year we still can't seem to balance our budget,” he said. “There's something fundamentally wrong here.”

The Wildrose party and Alberta NDP are also critical of the government’s reporting methods.