The Alberta government says thanks to its efforts to keep spending in check, the province is seeing financial improvement.

The UCP released its second quarter fiscal update Tuesday (Nov. 24) showing some positives, despite ongoing challenges.

Finance Minister Travis Toews says the foundation of the next provincial budget will be to bring spending in line with other jurisdictions, keep the net debt-to-GDP ratio well below 30%, and have a plan for balancing the budget as we get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

This latest fiscal snapshot shows the global health crisis, economic recession and low oil prices continue to significantly affect the province’s finances.

Alberta’s UCP government is projecting a $21.3 billion deficit for 2020-21 which actually happens to be $2.8 billion less than last quarter.

The province is pointing to improving revenue and government efforts to hold the line on spending as the reasons.

Toews says the province remains committed to maintaining fiscal discipline and balancing the budget once there is a better sense of what the future holds regarding COVID-19.

Expenses not including COVID-19 measures have decreased $156 million from Budget 2020. Total expense is forecast at $62.7 billion, up $135 million from last quarter and $5.4 billion from Budget 2020.

The government says the additional spending is for health care, personal protective equipment, municipal grants, financial supports to Albertans and businesses to help with the effects of the pandemic, and stimulus initiatives detailed in Alberta’s Recovery Plan.

While there is a long road ahead to full recovery, the United Conservative government says in a news release that Alberta’s economy is gradually emerging from the depths of the downturn.

The release also states Alberta’s government remains committed to maintaining fiscal discipline and balancing the budget once there is a better sense of what the future holds regarding COVID-19, global economic conditions and energy and financial markets.

The goal of balancing the budget in 2022-23 is being necessarily adjusted.

(Files from Government of Alberta release)