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Alberta finance minister says outlook improves but budget deficit $21.3 billion

Last Updated Nov 24, 2020 at 5:26 pm EST

Finance Minister Travis Toews, left, delivers the budget as Alberta Premier Jason Kenney watches in Edmonton on February 27, 2020. Alberta's finance minister is taking the reins in looming contract bargaining with teachers, but says there's no money for salary hikes. "I've been very clear and our position hasn't changed: in Budget 2020 there's no provision for increased remuneration levels across the board," Travis Toews said Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON — Alberta’s finance minister says COVID-19 will affect the province’s economy for the next couple of years and perhaps beyond, but recent projections are encouraging.

Travis Toews made the comments as he announced the revised budget deficit this year will be $21.3 billion.

That’s almost $3 billion less than projected at the first update in August, but still exponentially larger than the $6.8-billion deficit announced by Toews when he first presented the budget in February.

But Toews says there is hope on the horizon, while cautioning events are still fluid and the path back will be long.

Revenue is expected to reach $41.4 billion, almost $3 billion higher than last quarter due to improved forecasts for resource and gaming revenues, investment income and federal transfers.

More than 70 per cent of the jobs lost in the first wave of COVID-19 have returned, but Toews says the market won’t return to 2019 levels until 2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press