Alberta’s acting Minister of Finance Jason Nixon was in Calgary this morning at the McDougall Centre to deliver the results for the 2021/22 budget, which finished on March 31.
While Alberta had originally forecast a deficit, the province finished the year on a significant upswing resulting in a $3.9-billion surplus, in no small part thanks to rising oil prices, putting Alberta back in the black for the first time in seven years.
Minister Nixon stated that skyrocketing oil prices should not signal a spending spree. The province intends to use the surplus to help reduce costs for Albertans while making significant contributions to the Heritage Savings Trust Fund to ensure the province is better equipped to deal with managing oil downturns in the future.
While Alberta working to balance the books is good news, the recent arrest of Tamara Lich in Medicine Hat cast a significant shadow over the day’s announcement. We asked Minster Nixon about the troubling arrest, the ongoing persecution of COVID-19 mandate conscientious objectors the massive taxpayer-footed costs associated with these efforts and the ongoing zealous and often failing legal efforts of Alberta Health Services to punish these people.
Nixon responded acknowledging the concerns of many over the COVID-19 response and referenced an announcement earlier this morning made by Jason Kenney and Tyler Shandro that affirmed the Government of Alberta would be participating in a public inquiry into the federal government's invocation of the Emergencies Act. While in the long run this may prove meaningful, it does nothing to aid Tamara Lich and others facing legal prosecution for daring to protest unjust measures. This small step comes up short when you consider how badly Kenney’s own government came down on Albertan’s, particularly in terms of shutting down small business owners and arresting and fining pastors.
The direction of Alberta moving forward will very much be determined by the outcome of the United Conservative Party leadership race. We don’t know whether we will have strong conservative leadership, more of the same, or an NDP government after the next election — but if you want to stay up to date, be sure to check in regularly at UCPLeadership.com.