Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Alberta is banking on anticipated revenue from an expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline to balance the budget within five years.

Ceci says revenue from the yet-to-be built expansion, along with expected revenue from a replacement Enbridge pipeline to Wisconsin, will be factored into forecasts in the budget he is to table on Thursday.

He says it makes financial sense to include the pipelines now —given the expectation they will get completed — and the figures can be adjusted as the situation develops.

“That is definitely the hopes of the companies that are involved,” Ceci said Tuesday. “We’ve built (the revenue) into budget because that’s what everybody believes will happen.”

In 2016, the federal government approved the Enbridge Line 3 replacement to Wisconsin, as well as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, which would triple the amount of crude shipped from Edmonton to the port at Burnaby, B.C.

But the Trans Mountain expansion is facing delays and challenges.

B.C. Premier John Horgan is asking for a legal ruling on whether his province can restrict higher levels of oil from coming into B.C. while his government reviews oil-spill safety measures.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said Trans Mountain is critical to Canada’s energy future and she plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to give her the power to curtail oil shipments to B.C. in retaliation.

She has said that pipeline bottlenecks and limited access to overseas markets are forcing Alberta’s crude to sell at a discount, costing thousands of jobs and leaving billions of dollars of profit on the table.

Opposition United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney said it’s risky for Ceci to count on future revenue from Trans Mountain.

“We obviously hope that Trans Mountain gets built quickly, but what we’ve seen is a year of delays already and the very strong potential of yet further delays,” Kenney said.

“This is putting a lot of eggs in one uncertain basket, and that’s not how you budget.”

Ceci made the pre-budget announcement at a downtown tech startup company that creates virtual simulations for proposed homes and work sites.

Finance ministers traditionally get new shoes prior to budget day. This year, Ceci stood next to a screen displaying a computer-generated avatar of himself in loafers that toggled from shimmering electric green to dark purple to traditional black and grey.

He said the budget will continue with key NDP themes, but will include a detailed plan to balance the books.

“The budget is going to be balanced in 2023,” said Ceci. “We are focused on constraining expenditures (and) costs down the road, eliminating … waste where we find it, and diversifying our economy.”

The government won’t make deep cuts to balance the budget earlier, he said. This year’s deficit is pegged at $9.1 billion.

Kenney said a plan tied to the mercurial ups and downs of oil prices is not a plan.

“He (Ceci) has put on those virtual reality goggles and he can’t see clearly,” said Kenney. “He seems to be counting on good luck to get the budget balanced.”

Notley took over in 2015 as oil prices, the wellspring of Alberta’s economy, were falling by half from previous highs of more than US$100 a barrel. Oil prices have inched up since then, but Notley’s government has avoided deep cuts to programs and services, saying that would worsen the economy.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

NorthIsle starts drilling in Pemberton Hills area after negotiating deal with Freeport

Mining industry one step closer to a revitalization after farm-out agreement

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Port Hardy Fire Rescue’s open house a blazing hit

PHFR Lt. Harding explained that the organization is always looking for more recruits.

Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nation drafts first phase of passive housing project

The housing project will have 96 residential units for low-income families.

North Island Seniors Housing Foundation requests land from Port Hardy Council

“The foundation members will be coming to council with more information at a future date.”

Video: An up-close look at beluga whales in Hudson Bay

An up-close look as some belugas greet whale watchers off the coast of Churchill, Manitoba

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

NHL players say Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t impact them

NHL players say the legalization of marijuana in Canada won’t change how they go about their business.

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

Internal government documents show that more than one million jobs could be lost to automated vehicles, with ripple effects far beyond the likeliest professions.

Private marijuana stores should shut down, Mike Farnworth says

B.C. has approved 62 licences, but they still need local approval

HPV vaccine does not lead to riskier sex among teen girls: UBC

Girls are less likely to have sex now than they were a decade ago

Most Read