Writing in the National Post, reporter Jen Gerson notes that, a “few short years” removed from debt-free status, “by 2016-17, Alberta is expected to have a cumulative liability of $21.6 billion for its capital projects”. While Alberta benefits from strong revenues and good credit, and has a serious need for infrastructure improvements, Gerson writes that the province is making a “gamble on continued growth” that, if things go wrong, could spiral into a situation like those facing debt-riddled Ontario and Quebec, an issue that has been covered by MLI.
Gerson writes: “Interestingly, it’s for this reason a 2012 study by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute found that Alberta of all places had the highest probability of default on a 30-year timeframe of any of the provinces, despite the fact it had the strongest credit rating and no net debt at the time of the study.
In short, Albertans will witness some much-needed shovels hit the ground in the short term. The real impact of the debt this rings up may not be seen for 5, 10 even 30 years. Ms. Redford will be long gone before we know whether the bitumen bubble lands on red or black.”