AB finance minister approves lending AB government $25 billion

The Alberta minister of finance was given the okay to lend the provincial government $25 billion, the largest approval during his term.

Yesterday, Travis Toews, president of the Alberta Treasury Board and the minister of finance, recommended to the lieutenant governor that he be authorized to do the following:

  • Raise up to $25 billion through notes, bonds, debentures, or interest-bearing or non-interest-bearing treasury bills issued by the Crown, or any other securities under which the Crown is the debtor
  • Approves the terms and conditions of any of that money

The lieutenant government approved the recommendation.

Last week, I broke a story about a similar approval for $1.25 billion. That borrowing was specifically for an oil refinery.

This newborrowing is for an undetermined purpose. Which is odd.

In addition to the $1.25 billion that Toews was approved to borrow last week for the refinery, he was approved for up to $7 billion in November for securities of ATB Financial and Alberta Capital Finance Authority, which was changed to $9 billion last month. In February, he filed for another approval—$2.8 billion for securities from Agriculture Financial Services Corporation.

These three orders in council are the only ones authorized by the Lieutenant Governor since the UCP government was elected, and every one of them expressed an explicit purpose.

Yesterday’s announcement had no purpose listed. It’s just requesting the approval of $25 billion, the largest approval yet. In fact, it’s more than all the other approvals combined.

There are certainly plenty of places they could spend it.

Making up for the loss of $4.7 billion from the corporate income tax cuts implemented last February and this past January (and every January until the election), for example.

Or perhaps covering up for the $2.7 billion shortfall in healthcare, the $2.5 billion shortfall in K–12 education, or the $2.7 billion shortfall in postsecondary funding.

At this point, however, it’s anyone’s guess. Either way, it’s certainly going to push the $95.6 billion debt that they forecasted for this year past the $100 billion mark.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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