Sept. 6, 2019

Alberta’s Blue Ribbon Panel Report (for full report click here)

Alberta’s Finances: Summary

  • Purpose is to improve Alberta’s competitive position and achieve sustainable financial solutions, all at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.
  • Over the past 25 years Alberta’s spending per capita has been the highest in Canada.
  • Per capita spending in 2017 by Alberta was $13,819, BC was $10,285, Ontario $10,281 and Quebec $13,539. The average (excluding Alberta) was $11,368.
  • Alberta’s annual expenditures would be $10.4 billion less if its per capita spending matched the average of spending of BC, Ontario and Quebec – and we would not have a deficit.
  • Today our provincial debt is $60 billion, $13,773 for every Albertan and estimated to be $102 billion by 2022/23 or $22,070.
  • This year we will spend $2.0 billion (3.5%) of the budget on interest, increasing to $3.7 billion (5.9%) by 2022/23. The 2022/23 interest payment could pay for 30,000 more teachers or 35,000 long term care beds.
  • Cuts around the edges won’t get Alberta back to a sustainable balance budget.
  • Greater hostility by interest groups to energy developments generally will add uncertainty in preparing our budgets and will not likely get any simpler in the near future.
  • Noteworthy: cost of living for a family with an income of $75,000 which includes provincial income tax, health premiums, sales tax, gasoline tax utility costs, electricity, telephone and auto insurance is $7,673 in Calgary, $9,905 in Vancouver, $13,460 in Toronto and $11,074 in Montreal.

Alberta’s Health Stats

  • Ontario and BC have made progress in transforming their health care systems from the 20th century to the 21st century model.
  • In 2018/19, the Alberta spent $20.4 billion on health care, which represents 42% of our budget.
  • Health care spending per capita in 2018; Alberta $5,077, BC $4,267, ON $4,080 and QC $4,370. Note: Alberta has the youngest population, with fewer people over 65. (AB at 5.2% vs ON at 7.4%, BC at 7.6% and QC at 8%). Consequently, Alberta’s health care costs should be lower, not higher.
  • Deaths from major cardiovascular diseases per 100,000 population; AB 195.2, BC 174.5, ON 163.0 and QC 150.1
  • Deaths from intentional self-harm (suicide) per 100,000 population; AB 15.2, QC 10.4, ON 10.0 and BC 9.7
  • Wait times from GP referral to treatment (in weeks) AB 26.1, BC 23.2, QC 15.8 and ON 15.7. Note: 100% of Alberta patients receive radiation therapy within medically accepted wait times; only 49% cataracts patients are treated within medically acceptable times.
  • Alberta spent $8.7 billion on hospitals which represents 42.6% of Health’s budget. Note the average daily cost of: 1) hospital bed is over $1,000, 2) long term care is $203 and 3) home care is less than $50.
  • Saskatchewan moved 34 day procedures from hospitals to private clinics as part of its strategy to reduce wait times and saved an estimated 26%

August Employment

  • Canada gained 81,000 net jobs in August vs expected 15,000
    • 23,800 full time and 57,200 part time
    • Average earnings up 0.4% vs expected 0.3% m/m, with y/y at 3.2% vs 3.0%
  • US added 130,000 jobs in August vs expected 160,000 with unemployment unchanged at 3.7%


  • Canadian school boards continue to rewrite the rules on dress code, emphasizing student choice instead of “modesty is the best policy”; students are happy and parents are wary.
  • Whitehouse considers revoking California’s right to establish tougher pollution laws.
  • Think-tank Carbon Tracker says major oil companies have approved $50 billion of projects since 2018 that aren’t compatible with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • President Putin said Russia will produce missiles banned under the nuclear pact but won’t deploy unless the US does so first.