The Current

Jim Prentice warns Albertans low oil prices mean economic hardship

We speak with Alberta Premier Jim Prentice who says Albertans will have to brace themselves for hard economic times ahead as oil continues to tumble.
A few short years ago Alberta was awash in oil revenues. Now, after a few short months of dramatic price drops it faces a financial crossroads. And Premier Jim Prentice is actively floating what few politicians dare - some kind of a tax increase.

After weeks of free fall, the price of oil had a little bounce yesterday — up $3 to $48 a barrel.

But that's a long way off what it used to be... and not that long ago. In fact, just last July, the same barrel of West Texas Intermediate was trading at $107 — that's a fall of nearly sixty per cent.

And that's the kind of fall that hits the economy hard — especially in Alberta — where they're having to say the "R" word.

The Conference Board of Canada predicts the Alberta economy will head into recession this year. And the bad news keeps coming: On Tuesday of this week the oil sands giant Suncor said it's cutting capital spending by $1 billion dollars, and slashing one thousand jobs.

All this, as the newly-minted premier Jim Prentice settles into his job, and prepares a new provincial budget.

The spectacular fall has Mr. Prentice bracing the province for a grim economic forecast, he has said that if oil prices stay at $50 or less for the next year, the provinces finances could take as much as a $10 billion hit.

The Alberta Premier Jim Prentice joined Anna Maria in studio yesterday.

What do you think? How should Alberta and the rest of Canada deal with the drop in oil prices and the fallout on the economy?

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Or e-mail us through our website. Find us on Facebook. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.

This segment was produced by Calgary's Network Producer Michael O'Halloran.

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