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But Toews’ press secretary Jerrica Goodwin said the change in deficit in 2019-20 is primarily related to reductions in revenue which she said occurred after the tabling of Budget 2020 on Feb. 27.
She pointed to $2.6 billion lost from the net income of government business enterprises largely related to the write down for the Sturgeon Refinery, $575 million lost in personal income tax due to COVID-19 and $697 million in investment income lost as a result of COVID-19’s impact on the market, among other losses.
“The Opposition’s request for the minister to appear before public accounts is nothing but political theatre,” she said.
The NDP and at least one economist have disputed Toews’ claims that the economy was improving prior to the pandemic hitting.
The 2019-2020 year-end report shows that real gross domestic product stagnated in 2019, falling an estimated 0.6 per cent, down from 1.6 per cent growth in 2018.
“The UCP and in particular, Jason Kenney said that handing over billions of dollars to already profitable corporations would lead immediately to companies banging down our door trying to get into Alberta. That did not happen,” Phillips said.
Meanwhile, the government has provided a few more details on how it will spend the $262 million coming from Ottawa to help with education during the pandemic.
Colin Aitchison, press secretary for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, said the government is still working out details on how this funding will be distributed to Alberta’s school authorities but that authorities “will be eligible to access this additional funding to support online learning and online teacher training, student transportation, teaching and substitute costs, and increased cleaning and safety costs.”