A Better Future: Fiscal Recommendations to Position Alberta for Success

Message From Todd Hirsch 

Having weathered three years of recession, two major oil price collapses, a 40-year high rate of inflation and a global pandemic, Alberta has had its share of challenges over the past decade. Not only have times been difficult for many Alberta households, the years have been hard on the provincial government’s financial situation.

It is said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. And once again, the situation has taken a turn for the better. Stronger resource prices in 2022 – much of that related to geopolitical strife in Europe – has generated yet another windfall of resource income for the province.

The financial surplus expected in fiscal 2022-23 could top $10 billion, more than 20 times what was originally budgeted. Because resource prices could remain high for some time, and because many oilsands projects in Alberta are close to reaching higher royalty payouts, more surpluses could be in store for the coming years.

Of course anything could happen. And it could be happening. Threats of a global recession could drag prices down, reducing or even eliminating those surpluses. There is no certainty.

But we must think about the future. And we must have a plan in place for the future.

Drawing on the wisdom and experience of dozens of expert economists, business leaders, labour leaders and community members, this report provides advice and recommendations on how the provincial government should approach fiscal surpluses.

Rather than allowing reckless and haphazard decisions to squander away surpluses, government should be thoughtful and deliberate.

In the full report that follows, I provide 8 concrete recommendations that can help the Government of Alberta approach its budgeting process and design a thoughtful fiscal strategy.

A strategy that provides guidance for longer term fiscal planning, and that helps build a better fiscal future for Albertans.

I would like to thank the 37 individuals and organizations that participated in the development of this report.


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Gerry Wiles


Stay in CPP

Barb Germann


Thank you for doing this Todd. It feels like we have been on a roller coaster since the UCP was elected. It never seemed like they had any kind of plan, were prepared at all for budgets - or even knew how to do a budget - and were surprised when surpluses occurred. I have never and still don't think they know how finances work in AB within the larger context of Canada and the world. It has felt like we have been flying by the seat of our pants with NO thought to future generations...and don't get me started on digital currency!

Garry Watson


Aside from the 8th recommendation, all the rest of been considered in one form or another for many years. Many pundits, academics and even politicians have floated these as being sound and practical components of good fiscal management, includeing the former NDP government who attempted to implement exactly zero of these even though they preached them in opposition prior to and since they were in government. It seems that when the rubber hits the road, regardless of your political stripe, the money goes out the door in a sometime reckless manner just as fast as it cam in the door.

Tesfahun Fikre Sulito


Thank you for sharing this message Todd Hirsch. It is encouraging to hear that Alberta's financial situation is improving with the recent windfall of resource income. However, it is important to remain cautious and have a plan in place for the future, as economic conditions can quickly change. I am interested in learning more about the 8 concrete recommendations provided in the full report. It is reassuring to know that experts from various fields have contributed their insights to help guide the government's fiscal planning and build a better future for Albertans.

Lori Baugh Littlejohns


would like to read the report

Morrey Ewing


Todd, this a highly thoughtful, practical and action-oriented set of recommendations. But better than that, your proposals are mostly about defining and adopting principles that can endure, but also flex, as circumstances change over the years. I’m also impressed at how well this is written for a general, non-economics audience. Thank you. Allow me to suggest another type of long-term investment to further incorporate into your framework: projects that strengthen Alberta’s resilience and adaptation potential in the face of natural / man-made disasters. Over the past few years, AB has seen a so-called ‘100-Year’ flood in Calgary, a fire of biblical proportions in Fort Mac and a global pandemic. If we believe we will face more of these, not fewer, and more often, in the coming years, what do we want to invest in prevention, preparation, mitigation, and recovery capacity? Which scenarios do we want focus on and equip ourselves to address? As just one example, if the snow / glacier covers in the mountains disappear, what impacts on, say, agriculture, tourism and municipal water supply are we ready for? What would it take to be ready and should the attendant costs come out of operating spend or capital? Happy to discuss further if helpful.

harold bowen


thank you

Jayne Barnard


Great stuff. Albertans are way overdue for a fiscal policy that gets us off the resource rollercoaster. The 'Download Proposal' button could be better highlighted under 'Find Out More.' Maybe a brighter colour?

Holly Hoye


I think there is a typo on bottom left paragraph page 4 reads “expected windwall.” Should it be “expected windfall”?

Nik Badminton


I would like to download this please