The deficit remains well below projections with the third quarter forecast coming in at $6.9 billion, a drop of $1.9 billion below the Budget 2018 forecast.
Alberta’s economy continued to recover in 2018, but faced challenges near the end of year. The government took decisive action to address the pipeline bottleneck, improving the value of Alberta’s resources. While the ongoing impacts will continue to be felt in 2019, economic growth is expected to bounce back to 2.9 per cent in 2020 and remain solid over the medium term.
“The deficit is down and the path to balance is on track. Alberta has the strongest balance sheet in the country and that will not change. But there is more work to do. We will continue to fight for an economy that works for everyday families and protect the services they rely on. We will do that while carefully and prudently bringing the budget back to balance.”
Alberta employment grew by 1.9 per cent in 2018, adding almost 44,000 jobs, with unemployment dropping to 6.6 per cent.
Updating Alberta’s path to balance
Despite ongoing market access challenges, the government has made progress on balancing the budget by the 2023-24 fiscal year. The deficit has come down nearly $4 billion since 2016-17.
Alberta’s balance sheet was the strongest in the country before the recession and is expected to remain the strongest when the government reaches balance.
Looking to the medium term, government will take a number of actions to ensure growth continues and Alberta remains on a path to balance. This will focus on three key pillars:
- Enhancing market access and diversifying the economy
- Protecting core public services while containing costs
- Maintaining Alberta’s tax advantage with no payroll tax, no sales tax and no health care premiums.