Alberta on track for $13.2B surplus, Kenney says ahead of fiscal update

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the province is on track for a $13.2-billion surplus in this budget year.

That is above the $511-million surplus forecast when the provincial budget was introduced in February.

The province is riding another wave of financial prosperity due to high oil and gas prices, along with higher royalty payouts from maturing oilsands projects.

Kenney, currently on a government trip in South Korea, made the announcement in a video posted to Twitter.

Finance Minister Jason Nixon is slated to release further details Wednesday on the province’s finances for the first three months of this fiscal year.

Kenney says the windfall would allow the province to re-index non-refundable income tax brackets and tax bracket thresholds to inflation starting this year.

He says that means the average Albertan would see a $300 benefit.

Kenney’s government was heavily criticized for de-indexing the brackets in 2019 after promising to not punish Albertans with more taxes.

A recent study by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy says the move effectively forced Albertans to pay almost $647 million more in taxes from 2020 to 2022.

Alberta’s economy has ridden the highs and lows of fickle oil prices for decades, with prices bottoming out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As prices rebounded, the province tabled a budget this year that forecast a $511-million surplus dependent on the benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil price averaging US$70 barrel.

West Texas has been much higher than that, averaging more than US$100 a barrel over the first six months of this year, and now sits in the mid-$80 range.

Last year’s budget, crafted during the economic doldrums of the COVID-19 pandemic, predicted an $18-billion deficit but ultimately ended up as a surplus of almost $4 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2022.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press