Hard-hit Alberta may be eligible for federal relief: finance minister
The Liberal government has confirmed that Alberta may qualify for a financial boost under a little-known federal program to help ease the province's economic pain from falling commodity prices.
As The Canadian Press reported Thursday, the province could be eligible for payments under the fiscal stabilization program, Finance Minister Bill Morneau acknowledged during question period.
Provinces can make claims under the program when their revenues tumble by more than five per cent from one year to the next.
The Alberta government has projected a double-digit decline in revenues in 2015-16 due to the steep slide in resource prices.
“I spoke yesterday with the Alberta minister of finance to see how we could work together and I'm pleased to say that he understands that there's a stabilization fund that Alberta can apply for,” Morneau said Friday.
“The potential is up to $250 million. Should they apply, we would work expeditiously to move forward on that request.”
Payments from the program were capped in the late 1980s at $60 per provincial resident. Alberta's population is about 4.1 million.
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci told CP earlier this week that he was looking forward to a discussion with Morneau about possible federal help for the province's finances.
He didn't get into the details, but when asked whether he might ask the federal government for a loan, he replied: “Yeah, potentially.”
Ceci said he would also like to see Ottawa speed up promised infrastructure investments and provide more support for getting pipeline access to tidewater.
Last fall, the Alberta government projected its revenues would sink 11.5 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16. Experts say it could end up worse than that because oil prices have continued to drop.
“Albertans are hurting,” Ceci said.