The Government budget sets Alberta up for serious cutbacks and financial pain in the near future, says Alberta Party Opposition Leader Greg Clark.

“I’m beyond being angry, I’m worried,” said Clark. “I worry the Government doesn’t understand the real magnitude of the situation. They’ve used inflated energy price forecasts but will still run deficits over $10 billion for two years running, and have no plan to balance. What if they’re wrong? What if energy doesn’t recover to the levels the Government expects?

“It’s beyond irresponsible, it’s negligent.”

Clark said the Government need to focus on must-have priorities and deliver those services cost-effectively.

“They’re throwing around hundreds of millions of dollars as if they have the money,” said Clark. “They don’t have the money. This budget should only contain the must-haves, not billions of dollars of ‘nice-to-haves’.”

Alberta’s debt servicing costs will skyrocket under the Government’s plan.

“Debt servicing will exceed $2 billion in 2018,” said Clark. “That’s a 159% increase in only two years. At the same time there is no plan to balance anywhere in sight, and spending continues to go up.

“It’s a recipe for a guaranteed credit rating downgrade, which will increase debt servicing costs even more.”

“The Government is shockingly naïve. They simply don’t understand how bad things are, and they are going to make it worse,” said Clark. “Not just in the long and medium term, but in the short term. They are setting themselves up for massive cutbacks and even more tax increases within two to three years. The long term outlook is grim, but they have no concept whatsoever of how bad it’s going to be even in 2017.

Clark said the Government’s flagship Fiscal Planning and Transparency Act lasted less than a few months, noting it will be amended to remove the 15% debt-to-GDP ceiling.

“The 15% debt-to-GDP ceiling was the point of the Act,” said Clark. “It’s stunning to see it abandoned less than a month into the new fiscal year.

“The Government is gambling with the future prosperity and viability of our province. There’s a better way, which I will outline tomorrow in the Alberta Party Caucus alternative budget.”

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