Government claims success on the economy; opposition calls it a failure

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by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta sang its praises Thursday for a growing economy, returning jobs and a decrease in the deficit by $2.5 billion.

Citing stats that show the Alberta economy grew by 4.9 per cent in the 2017-18 governmental year, the government was pleased with the increase following the provincial recession and an increase of 90,000 full-time jobs last year.

“Our government has been clear – we are going to have the backs of Albertans,” said Joe Ceci, President of Treasury Board & Minister of Finance, in a release Thursday. “That’s why we made sure to invest in the services families need while keeping a steady hand guiding the province out of this recession. We know that we still have work to do, but we will not let up until all Albertans feel the economic recovery. We are growing an economy that is built to last.”

The NDP say Alberta’s “broad-based economic recovery” has continued into 2018. Expectations are for a 2.7 per cent this year.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported Thursday that small business optimism had an uptick in Alberta.

The CFIB’s Alberta Business Barometer index for June indicates small business confidence gained three points in Alberta reaching 56.5. Although there is an uptick, Alberta remains weak relative to the national levels which sits at 62.2.

Despite government stats that show 90,000 full time jobs were added last year, the CFIB data shows full-time staffing intentions are muted with 15 per cent looking to hire and 15 per cent looking to lay off.

“Small business owners are more optimistic than they were last month, but the index continues to underperform compared to historic norms. Although hiring intentions are lukewarm, the fact the staffing reductions have swelled is positive news” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta.

While both the province and one of the province’s business organizations are optimistic, the Opposition UCP see Thursday’s fiscal update as a full display of NDP mismanagement.

The UCP say Thursday’s announcement shows personal and corporate income tax revenue is down $402 million and $470 million respectively from 2017 budget expectations.

“As the direct result of tax grabs by an out-of-touch NDP government, driving out jobs and investment, there was lower tax revenue meaning less for government services and more debt for Albertans,” said United Conservative Finance Critic Drew Barnes. “If the NDP had focused on removing barriers to free-enterprise and the creation of mortgage-paying jobs instead of tax hikes to cover their rampant spending increases, they could have had higher tax revenues from a stronger economy.”

While the government says the deficit was reduced by nearly $3 billion, the UCP see what they call a staggering $8 billion deficit as a number nearly eight times higher than what they promised Albertans in their 2015 election platform.

“It’s not good enough to tell Albertans that the NDP deficit was only eight times what the NDP promised, not ten, just because the government happened to get lucky with resource and investment revenues last year,” Barnes said. “Today the out-of-touch NDP is amazingly celebrating a current debt of $43.4 billion, with the figure going to nearly $100 billion in the near future. It’s well past time for this NDP government to get serious about getting Alberta’s finances in order now.”

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