Lethbridge: As Ed Stelmach's tenure as Premier winds down, his government will run its third
consecutive multi-billion-dollar budget deficit. Finance Minister Lloyd Snelgrove
says forcing a balanced budget on the province this year would do more harm than
good. Snelgrove is banking on prosperity returning and the province being back
"in-the-black" by 2014.
University of Lethbridge Political Scientist Geoffrey Hale noted that this
budget seems to be a step in the right direction. While speaking with Country 95
News, Hale said, "This (budget) seems to reflect some of the push-back that
ordinary citizens have been struggling a little bit and the government doesn't
wish to look as extravagant as in previous years".
Hale stated, "The government appears to have gotten a better grip on
spending from the time of the last budget to their current forecast spending,
and also year to year, when compared to what we've seen in quite a few years in
Alberta". However, Hale indicated he is somewhat concerned with the province
counting on oil and gas revenues to turn things around. He explained, "A drop
in demand from China or further disruptions in the Arab world, could be quite
The 2011-12 budget will spend $39-billion while forecasting a revenue
shortfall of $3.4 billion that will be covered by the Sustainability Fund, which
will drop down to $5.3 billion.
Revenue is expected at $35.6 billion, with oil anticipated to average
US-$89.40 a barrel in the coming year. Each $1 boost in price per barrel adds
$141 million to revenue.
Average Albertans will pay more. Fees are going up for car registration,
incorporating a business, searching a land title and reserving a camping
One of the most important elements of the budget for south-west Alberta, was
out-lined last week, when Premier Ed Stelmach stopped in Fort Macleod as part of
a caucus tour. He announced that construction will start in 2012 on the
long-awaited state-of-the-art Law Enforcement Training Centre. Thursday's
provincial budget fleshed out the dollar signs. The province is setting aside
$117-million over three years to build the college. $20-million is set aside
this year, followed by further commitments of $50-million and $47-million.
Further details on the provincial budget can be found at