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

Province delivers notice of unauthorized occupation to Saanich tent city Camp Namegans

A Ministry of Transportation liaison to Camp Namegans delivered a “notice of… Continue reading

UPDATE: Woman hit by car in parking lot 93 years old

Driver of sedan backs into older adult walking through lot

Residents of tent cities unfairly labeled as criminals, says report

Some neighbours supportive of Regina Park camp

Delayed grant decisions could send new Crystal Pool costs soaring

Delays could cost the City of Victoria up to $500,000/month more in construction costs

Delivery truck downs power lines in Sidney

A tractor trailer delivering eggs clipped a low-hanging wire on Second St.… Continue reading

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Special forces unit to monitor Hells Angels ride on Vancouver Island

Enforcement unit says motorcycle club to hold 35th anniversary ride in Nanaimo

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Saanich Police investigate store robbery

Store video captures image of suspect

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Most Read