Alberta just came out with their 2010 budget last week. It is a fun thing to read through if you are interested in such things.
A couple of interesting things:
The life blood. No other province in Canada (except NL) has the ability to go from deep deficit to a strong surplus without hardly ever lifting a finger. Look at the revenue projections. From $33.5B in the current year to $40.2B in three years – and those are based on fairly conservative oil prices. A 20% rise in revenues. Boom.
The gravy train. $1.1 billion to agriculture – $700 million in straight subsidies. Makes NB’s subsidies to industry look kind of piddly. When I gently chide my Albertan colleagues about this I get the line about agriculture having to compete with European subsidies and the weather. Uh huh. As if New Brunswick manufacturers don’t have to compete with subsidies and the rise in the Canadian dollar. Let’s face it. Subsidies to industry are subsidies to industry. It’s just that in Alberta it’s agriculture and oil (through very lucrative federal and provincial tax incentives to stimulate oil sands activity over the past 15 years) and in New Brunswick it’s other sectors.
Unfortunately, most provinces will have to inflict far more fiscal pain to get out of deficits.