Oil-price squeeze may force Alberta to run in the red on operating budget

EDMONTON – Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner says the province is getting squeezed by oil markets and may not be able to balance the operating portion of next year’s budget as promised.

Horner says he is “very concerned” about running an operating deficit and has asked departments to find further savings.

He says everything is on the table, including the premier’s promise to build 140 new family care clinics.

Horner recently announced the province will take on debt to pay for infrastructure projects, but had previously remained committed to running a balanced $40-billion operating budget.

He says the problem is Alberta’s major international oil customer, the United States, has increased its production forcing the province to sell its bitumen at a steep discount.

Horner says Alberta — and Canada — desperately needs new pipelines to the coast to reach exploding markets in China and South America.