by Lucie Roy
Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA and Minister of Culture and Tourism, The Honourable Maureen Kubinec made a presentation on the province’s fiscal and economic situation at the Rotary Club of Morinville Jan. 28.
The MLA, who has recently announced she would seek the PC nomination to run again, spoke about growth in the province and the demand to keep up with infrastructure.
“We’ve seen plenty of changes over the last year and the province continues to grow at an incredible pace,” Kubinec told local Rotarians. “Since 2006, Morinville itself has grown by over 70 per cent. That is significant.”
The MLA said while the province struggles to keep up with infrastructure demands in the midst of this growth; there is a great deal of uncertainty being felt because of the decline in oil prices.
“The problem we are confronting is that the province relies heavily on volatile resource revenues,” she said. “For every single dollar drop in the price per barrel over a year, Alberta loses $215 million in direct revenues. If it persists we are looking at a shortfall of $6-7 billion in the coming fiscal year.”
That provincial shortfall is equal to the province’s entire annual education budget, one-third of the salaries spent in the entire public sector, including the province’s doctors, nurses and teachers.
Kubinec’s talk included discussions on the value of investing in infrastructure, and the importance of market access, including the four proposed pipelines: Keystone XL, Gateway, Trans Mountain and Energy East.
Though the economic outlook is cloudy, Kubinec said she is confident the province can weather the storm.
“We have no sales tax, no payroll tax and the lowest income taxes and fuel taxes in the country,” she said. “We also have $5 billion in a contingency account which can serve to some degree as a shock absorber. These are all useful foundations for the future. They will enable us to withstand the financial storms we’re entering. And we will weather this. Alberta has been through tough times before.”