Responsible spending and booming economy deliver strong balance sheet
The Government of Alberta ended its fiscal year on a positive note with a strong balance sheet after months of uncertainty from volatile oil prices and the June 2013 flooding in southern Alberta.
The province achieved a $2.5 billion operational surplus and a full fiscal plan surplus of $755 million.
“We overcame many challenges last year—energy volatility, continued global economic uncertainty and of course the southern Alberta flooding. These events all had impacts on the lives of Albertans and on the province’s bottom line. That said, our strong balance sheet and surplus position show we have turned a corner financially. Albertans can be confident this government will continue to focus on fiscal responsibility, building needed infrastructure and investing in core services like health, education and support for the vulnerable.”
The economy continued to expand, creating thousands of jobs and drawing ever more people to the province. The economic growth rate is estimated to be 3.9 per cent for 2013, which is the fourth consecutive year above 3 per cent. Alberta’s population also reached a major milestone in 2013 surpassing four million people, with a growth rate that is three times the national average.
There were 61,400 new jobs created, while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.6 per cent. The strong labour market attracted a record number of migrants with more than 50,000 arriving from other countries and another 50,000 from other provinces.
“The global economy remains very uncertain, yet Alberta continues to rise above the crowd. The bottom line is that we are the economic engine of Canada and will continue to be the province of choice for people who want a better future.”
In 2013-14, government continued to invest in core areas that are important to Albertans, including: affordable and accessible health care; looking after vulnerable Albertans; a productive education system; modern infrastructure that supports community and economic growth; responsible resource development with expanded market access; as well as the constant evaluation of the effectiveness of spending to deliver outcomes Albertans expect.
Fiscal Summary highlights
- Operational surplus of $2.5 billion.
- Fiscal plan surplus of $755 million (change in net assets).
- Consolidated Financial Statements deficit of $302 million.
Operational Plan: revenue highlights
- Total revenue was $45.3 billion, nearly 17% higher than budget due to higher energy prices, along with increased personal and corporate income tax revenue, investment income and federal transfers.
- Without federal government transfers for flood assistance, total revenue was $43.7 billion, nearly 13% higher than budget.
- Non-renewable resource revenue was $9.6 billion, 32% higher than budget and 23% higher than last year due to higher oil prices, a lower differential and a lower Canadian dollar.
- Total tax revenue was $20.3 billion, 6% higher than budget and nearly 10% higher than last year.
- Investment income was $3.2 billion, 50% higher than budget and 29.5% higher than last year. The majority of the increase is due to strong returns for the Heritage Fund and endowment funds.
Operational Plan: spending highlights
- Total operational expense was $41.9 billion, 9.8% higher than budget and 9.1% higher than last year to pay for the 2013 flood, higher demands in health and human services and enrollment pressures in education.
- Without flood assistance, operational expense would have been $39.1 billion, 2.6% higher than budget and 1.9% higher than last year.
- This is well below the population plus inflation rate of 5.6%.
Capital Plan highlights
- $5 billion was spent on capital projects to build the schools, hospitals and roads Albertans called for.
- $3.8 billion in direct borrowing helped finance the Capital Plan.
- Capital debt servicing costs were $230 million, or 0.5% of operational revenue. The debt servicing limit is 3% of operational revenue.
Savings Plan highlights
- Total savings grew to $23.2 billion.
- The Heritage Savings Trust Fund book value was $15 billion (fair market value of $17.5 billion), following investment returns of 16%.
- The Contingency Account’s balance at March 31, 2014 was $4.7 billion, growing from a $3.3 billion balance the previous year.
- An additional $1.3 billion is available to be transferred to the Contingency Account in 2014-15 based on the 2013-14 year-end results.
2013 Flood costs highlights
- Operational expense for flood assistance $2.8 billion.
- Capital Plan spending was $204 million.
- Government of Canada transfer is $1.6 billion; $1.4 billion from the federal government’s Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) plus about $200 million for Albertans living on reserves.
- The price of oil (WTI) averaged US$99.05 per barrel in 2013-14 and WCS, the oil sands benchmark, averaged Cdn$80.11.
- Despite continued market access issues due to pipeline network constraints, raw bitumen production increased 14.5%.
- After starting the fiscal year at close to parity with the US dollar, the Canadian dollar depreciated, averaging US¢95/Cdn$ in 2013-14.
- Alberta manufacturing expanded and agriculture output remained near all-time highs as crop production soared 18.7% in 2013, helped by favourable growing conditions. Farm cash receipts were the second highest on record.
Consolidated Financial Statements highlights
The 2013-14 annual report also includes the province’s Consolidated Financial Statements. These statements include:
- Revenue, expense, assets and liabilities of schools, universities, colleges and health entities. This adds revenue of $4.2 billion, expenses of $4.4 billion and net assets of $22.9 billion.
- Public pension liabilities, which increased by $748 million from last year to $11.6 billion. This adds $748 million to expense and $11.6 billion to liabilities.
- Deferred capital contribution treatment for capital transfers from the federal government. This reduces revenue by $100 million and net assets by $2.4 billion.
- Altogether, this means a consolidated financial statement deficit of $302 million.
- The province received a clean audit opinion on all financial statements from the Auditor General.
Other highlights of the Alberta government’s achievements in 2013-14 are found in Measuring Up, which describes progress on goals and performance measures found in the 2013-16 strategic plan. Also, each of the 19 government ministries have now released their annual reports.
Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta's resources to ensure we're able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.