Alberta finance minister to stick to financial plan, even with possible credit rating downgrade

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci.
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci said Monday his government plans to stay the course when it comes to its finances, even if there’s a chance the province’s credit rate could be further downgraded.

Ceci was in Toronto where he had a meeting with three credit rating agencies: Standard and Poors, DBRS Ltd. and Moody’s Investor Service.

He said he was given no indication that the province’s credit rating would be downgraded.

Ceci said the talks focused on the provincial government’s plans to return to a balanced budget by 2023 or 2024.

“They were asking for further elaboration to understand the fundamentals we built our plan on, and what it was built on,” Ceci said.

“All three of the credit agencies indicated they would take the next two to five weeks to further assess their response.”

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READ MORE: Alberta finance minister defends debt growth from credit rating agency criticism

Ceci said even if there is another downgrade, Alberta still has a good credit rating that is higher than other provinces in the country.

He also pointed out things are starting to turn around in the province, and added that the NDP government has been controlling spending.

“We’re restraining operating growth below population growth and inflation, and as the economy recovers, I told them, revenue will gradually return to normal levels in the coming year. That’s what I shared. Budget 2017 maps outline clearly how we’re cutting the deficit down,” Ceci said.

In April 2016, Moody’s Investor Service and DBRS both downgraded Alberta’s credit rating.

Then in May 2016, Standard & Poor’s changed the province’s rating from double-A-plus to double-A.