Deficit down, jobs up in 2017
Alberta’s economy continued to grow over the last year as jobs returned to the province and government steadily brought down the deficit.
Leading the country, the Alberta economy grew by 4.9 per cent in 2017-18 following one of the deepest and longest recessions to hit the province in a generation. At the same time, the provincial deficit fell by $2.5 billion from Budget 2017.
“Our government has been clear – we are going to have the backs of Albertans. That’s why we made sure to invest in the services families need while keeping a steady hand guiding the province out of this recession. We know that we still have work to do, but we will not let up until all Albertans feel the economic recovery. We are growing an economy that is built to last.”
A recovery built to last
Alberta’s broad-based economic recovery is expected to have led all provinces last year. The recovery has continued into 2018, and Alberta’s economy is expected to expand by 2.7 per cent this year. In 2017, Alberta’s economy recovered about two-thirds of the losses experienced during the recession.
More and more Albertans are finding good jobs in an increasingly diverse economy, as Alberta added 90,000 full-time jobs last year. The number of employed people in Alberta reached 2.3 million in December, marking a full recovery of jobs lost during the recession.
As this recovery was building momentum in 2017-18, government focused on making life better for Albertans. This included making life more affordable, through initiatives like reducing school fees, establishing $25-a-day Early Learning and Child Care Centres and extending the post-secondary tuition freeze through 2018-19.
Another priority was creating good jobs and diversifying the economy, which government did by delivering on the second year of a two-year jobs package, as well as providing job creators with the Capital Investment and Alberta Investor tax credits to support small- and medium-sized businesses. In addition, the implementation of the Petrochemicals Diversification program capitalized on the growing global demand for related higher-value products and is working to promote greater energy processing in Alberta.
At the same time, government chose to protect and improve the public programs and services vital to all Albertans. This included increasing investments in community care and adding hundreds of new community care beds. Government also made sure students continued to benefit from a world-class education system by fulfilling its commitment to fund K-12 enrolment growth.
By making life better for Albertans in 2017-18, and supporting the economy while it recovered, government has set the foundation for continued progress on balancing the budget. Government is committed to allocating tax dollars where they are needed most, eliminating waste and controlling spending, and finding efficiencies on the path to balancing the budget by 2023-24.
Quick facts from 2017-18 Annual Report
- By year-end there were more than 2.3 million Albertans working, more than ever before. Alberta’s employment rate was just above 67 per cent at the end of 2017, and has remained at that level, leading all provinces.
- At 1.4 per cent, Alberta’s population is once again growing faster than the national average. Population grew throughout the recession – driven by immigration and natural increase, but in the last half of the fiscal year we also saw positive net interprovincial migration.
- In 2017-18, Alberta’s net debt to GDP ratio was six per cent, with the next closest province more than twice as high at 15 per cent, and most provinces above 30 per cent.
- The Alberta government has net assets totalling $29.7 billion, contributing to one of the strongest balance sheets in the country.
- The Heritage Fund’s book value was $15.6 billion, an increase of $230 million from March 31, 2017.
- WTI averaged US$53.69 per barrel (up $5.76 from 2016-17, and $1.31 below the Budget 2017 estimate).
- The US-Canadian dollar exchange rate averaged US¢78/Cdn$ in 2017-18 (two cents higher than the Budget 2017 estimate).
- The light-heavy differential for crude oil was US$14.40 (US$1.60 narrower than the Budget 2017 estimate).