CALGARY, ALTA. - Alberta's economic forecast is getting brighter as the days pass. The province is now anticipating the economy to grow by 3.1 per cent in 2017, up from the budget forecast of 2.6 per cent, as detailed in the first quarter fiscal update and economic statement.
Most private sector and other forecasters expect Alberta's economic growth to lead the provinces in 2017, the statement indicates.
Officials stated the Alberta economy added close to 17,000 jobs so far this year and employment is now forecast to grow by 1.3 per cent in 2017, up from 0.9 per cent forecast at budget.
The province's Activity Index, a weighted average of nine monthly economic indicators, also showed signs of improvement, climbing close to five per cent through to May.
Officials cited other signs of economic recovery including an increase in rig drilling, housing starts and non-energy exports.
"There is good reason to feel optimistic about Alberta's recovery and we will continue on the path to balance while supporting the needs of everyday Albertans," said Joe Ceci, minister of finance, in the press release.
However, the province noted that the effects of the downturn and a lower-than-expected oil price have hurt provincial revenue, but this was partly offset by an improved light-heavy crude differential, along with higher revenue from crown lease sales and investment income.
To address falling revenue, the province is using $250 million of the budgeted $500 million risk adjustment and targeting a further $200 million on top of the $200 million in savings proposed in budget 2017. The forecast deficit is unchanged from budget at $10.5 billion, the statement reads.
"We will reduce the deficit over time by restraining growth in spending while protecting health care, education and the other services Albertans count on," said Ceci.