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Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci tabled a “shock absorber” tax, spend and borrow budget Tuesday for Canada’s top oil and gas producing province to ease the impact of low commodity prices on provincial finances.
But if you are in the energy sector, and taking the brunt of that price shock and slashing spending and laying off people, the best you can hope for from the left-leaning NDP government is that you still have a viable business if and when oil prices recover.
In its first budget since unseating Alberta’s Conservative dynasty last May, the NDP government had harsh words for the previous regime for “squandering resource revenue” instead of saving it and for failing to “diversify” Alberta’s economy.
Ceci said his government is prioritizing stable funding for health care, education and social services as the province battles a mild recession, plans to return to a balanced budget by 2019/2020, and will help with job creation and economic diversification in areas like petrochemicals, agriculture, tourism, technology, creative industries and manufacturing.
Alberta will also stimulate the economy by spending heavily on infrastructure. Overall, government spending will grow by two percent, he said.
The budget repairs some of the “serious mistakes” made by the Conservatives and makes decisions that will help the province get through tough economic times, he said to reporters.
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