Alberta’s Fiscal Future

 

In 2017-18, the Alberta’s budgetary deficit is forecast to be $10.3 billion and the province’s net debt will increase by $12.8 billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer (2017) has projected that Alberta’s debt will continue to grow relative to GDP and concluded that the current fiscal policy in Alberta is not sustainable over the long term.

Parliamentary Budget Officer. “Fiscal Sustainability Report 2017” Ottawa, (October, 2017)

 

The Alberta’s Fiscal Future (AFF) project is a two-year research/public engagement initiative providing the public and policy makers with in-depth analyses of Alberta’s fiscal situation and policy options to address it.  With the AFF project, the School of Public Policy will release a series of research papers on Alberta’s fiscal issues and hold three events. It will also engage the public through social media, radio and television interviews, op-eds, meetings with influential groups and government officials.

The research program is organized around three broad themes and a series of policy questions:

These research papers will examine the evolution of Alberta’s fiscal situation since the 1970s and investigate how the Alberta government has responded to shocks in its non-renewable resource revenues.  How large is the fiscal adjustment that will be required to achieve a sustainable fiscal system in the province?
Health care spending represents over 40 percent of the provincial budget.  Are there better ways to provide health care services by, for example, changing the ways health services are delivered, physicians are paid, and hospitals are funded? The other expenditure areas also need to be reformed, with rising case-loads for the social assistance programs, the need to provide high quality education and training program, and the need to develop other options for financing infrastructure spending.
The competitiveness of the tax system in Alberta (including personal and corporate income taxes, provincial and municipal property taxes, resource royalties, and carbon taxes) is crucial for maintaining high levels of investment and innovation, which sustain well-paid jobs. Can we reform the business and personal income tax systems to regain Alberta’s competitiveness, while continuing to raise substantial revenues to fund valued public services? Is it time to seriously consider the adoption of a provincial sales tax in Alberta?

Publications

November 2018

Author: Trevor Tombe: Alberta’s Long-Term Fiscal Future

October 2018

Author: Melville McMillan: Fiscal Policy Trends: Alberta’s Government Spending: How Big a Problem?
Authors: Ronald Kneebone and Margarita Wilkins: 50 Years of Government of Alberta Budgeting

September 2018

Author: F.L. (Ted) Morton: Why Alberta Needs a Fiscal Constitution
Author: Ergete Ferede: Alberta’s Fiscal Responses to Fluctuations in Non-Renewable-Resource Revenue
Author: Ergete Ferede: Fiscal Policy Trends: The Long-Term Consequences of Fiscal Responses to Resource Revenue Fluctuations

May 2018

Authors: Philip Bazel, Daria Crisan, Bev Dahlby: Fiscal Policy Trends: Who will pay the interest on Alberta’s public debt?

March 2018

Authors: Bev Dahlby: Fiscal Policy Trends: The Path to Balance or the Road to Ruin, Analysis of Path to Budget Balance
Authors: Bev Dahlby: Fiscal Policy Trends: Commentary for the Provincal Budget March 22, 2018
Authors: Ron Kneebone and Margarita Wilkins: Social Policy Trends: Alberta Government Program Spending

October 2017

Authors: Janice MacKinnon and Jack Mintz:   Putting the Alberta Budget on a New Trajectory


Presentations/Materials

February 2019

The Origins and the Size of Alberta’s Fiscal Problem

  • Ron Kneebone, Scientific Director, Social Policy and Health Program, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary.
  • Trevor Tombe, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Calgary and Research Fellow, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

Infrastructure Spending and Public Sector Compensation

  • Melville McMillan, Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics, and Fellow, Institute for Public Economics, University of Alberta

Richard Mueller, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Lethbridge

Fiscal Rules and Revenue Enhancement

  • Jack Mintz, President’s Fellow, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary
  • Ted Morton, Executive-in-Residence, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

 

Presentation at the Economic Society of Alberta event, “The Pros and Cons of a Sales Tax for Alberta

Why Alberta Needs a Sales Tax


Media

January 2019

Op-Ed: Equalization Anger Against Ottawa Should be Focused on Another Program

November 2018

Alberta’s deficit could hit $40 billion by 2040, Calgary economist warns

Bell: Alberta, the party’s over with no leader at the helm

If Albertans want to avoid fiscal disaster, the only choices left are difficult ones

Report paints bleak fiscal picture for Alberta in years to come

Action is required today’: Economist sounds alarm on Alberta’s ballooning deficit

New taxes, spending restraint needed to avoid fiscal cliff in Alberta, report warns

Kenney calls for oil production cut as report paints bleak fiscal future for Alberta

EDITORIAL: Tough choices ahead for Alberta, no matter which party leads

 

September 2018

Two former finance ministers are worried alberta’s current fiscal path could lead to some very tough decisions down the line

Looking to our province’s past to fix our financial future

Alberta NDP on a path to budget ‘crisis,’ former Saskatchewan finance minister warns

Time to renew efforts to get off the budget roller-coaster

March 2018

Jack Mintz: Three sneaky tricks hide the ugly truth about government budgets

February 2018

Panelists push for Alberta sales tax but not everyone agrees


Events

An important component of the AFF project are three public events that are meant to draw the public’s attention to the fiscal issues facing Alberta and what steps can be taken to address them. New events coming soon.

September 20, 2018: How did Roy and Ralph tackle provincial deficits in the 90s? Learning from the past: Moving towards Alberta’s fiscal future


If you would like to be kept informed about the release of research papers, planning of events and are interested in contributing to the Alberta’s Fiscal Futures project, please contact:

Bev Dahlby, Research Director [email protected]