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Alberta credit rating downgraded

It comes one day after Premier Jason Kenney revealed the government’s economic recovery plan

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The Alberta government has had its credit rating dropped from AA to AA-, and its outlook has been reduced to negative, by the Fitch bond agency.

It comes one day after Premier Jason Kenney revealed the government’s economic recovery plan.

“The downgrade of the province’s IDR is due to Fitch’s expectation that sharply higher provincial borrowing during the pandemic-driven economic crisis and in the recovery to follow will result in a debt burden relative to GDP that is incompatible with an ‘AA’ rating,” the company said in a Tuesday afternoon statement.

“As the province has neither formally detailed the extent of its current fiscal challenges nor provided firm details on a path toward an eventual recovery, the Negative Outlook reflects the risk that stressors identified in Fitch’s rating case crystalize, leading to further deterioration in credit quality.”

Fitch’s has also lowered their assessment of the province’s debt sustainability at ‘a’ from ‘aa’.

“The lowering of Alberta’s debt sustainability assessment to ‘a’ reflects the sharp increase in provincial borrowing needed in the coming years to respond to the economic outfall from the pandemic and oil market downturn,” Fitch said.

“The Negative Outlook is based on the potential that the risks identified in the rating case scenario are not sufficiently addressed by policy actions likely to be taken by the province through fiscal 2025, the timeframe of Fitch’s scenario. Resolution of the Negative Outlook will also take into account the context of the economic recovery in Canada and Alberta. Fitch expects that significant revisions to the province’s financial plan will be required even with a return to economic growth.”

Fitch also predicts Alberta’s deficit in fiscal 2021 will approach $20 billion; an increase from the $6.8 billion in the tabled budget. It also predicts a 7.5% decline in nominal GDP for the province. 

NDP leader Rachel Notley said the downgrade was a repudiation of Premier Jason Kenney’s economic plan.

“A day after the UCP released their so-called economic plan, Alberta’s credit was downgraded. Fitch cited a lack of policy action and stated “significant revisions to the province’s financial plan will be required.” Simply put, Kenney’s plan is a failure,” Notley tweeted.

It is the third downgrade of the province’s finances since December, including Moody’s, then DBRS, now Fitch.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said the downgrade should serve as a wake-up call for Kenney.

“The credit downgrade signals that it’s time for the Alberta government to deal with the province’s debt and spending problem,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta Director.

“It was important for the government to address its multi-billion-dollar spending problem before COVID-19 hit, and now it’s even more crucial.

“Albertans are already losing billions of dollars through interest payments, so it’s important for the government to get a handle on its finances before the situation gets any worse. Struggling Alberta families and businesses can’t afford higher taxes to pay for a bloated provincial government, so the government must solve its debt problem by cutting spending.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Kenney in isolation after top minister catches COVID-19

Municipal Affairs minister tests positive

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is in quarantine after one of his top ministers caught COVID-19.

Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard revealed Wednesday afternoon she had tested positive for the virus.

As one of her close contacts, Kenney is now isolating at home.

In a statement, Allard said she is suffering from mild symptoms of the virus.

The statement said Kenney is being tested for the virus at home.

Transportation Minister Ric McIver is also isolated and being tested after having come into contact with Allard.

UCP MLAs Angela Pitt, Peter Guthrie, and Nathan Neudorff are also entering self-isolation 

On Wednesday, the province confirmed 406 new infections bringing the numbers of active cases to 3,372. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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NDP prop up Trudeau’s Liberals in confidence vote

The NDP move means there will be no snap election

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NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has denied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the election he seemed to want.

Singh said early Wednesday afternoon his party would not join the Tories and Bloc to bring down the minority government in a confidence vote over an attempt to set up an anti-corruption committee.

For several weeks the Liberals have been stalling as opposition members of the finance committee work to unveil details on the WE charity scandal that has seen revelations that Trudeau’s immediate family members have benefitted by being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars from the charity.

“We’re looking at options, but I want to make Canadians absolutely clear that we are not going to give the Prime Minister the election he’s looking for,” Singh said at a news conference prior to the vote.

The NDP and the Liberals defeated the motion by a vote of 180-146.

Tory leader Erin O’Toole blasted the Trudeau manoeuvres.

“Creating a committee has never in our history been grounds for a confidence vote,” said O’Toole.

“It’s Mr. Trudeau that is making it a confidence vote because Mr. Trudeau would prefer to try and go to an election rather than (answer) questions about insider spending scandals.”

The Green Party’s three MPs also voted against the Tory motion.

“Ahead of today’s vote on the Conservative motion to create a special committee, I would like to remind all Members of Parliament that people in Canada are counting on us to keep our eye on the ball and to focus on their needs,” Green Party leader Annamie Paul said in a statement.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Beer tanks theft leaves B.C. brew pub owner with bad taste in mouth

RCMP are investigating after two massive one-tonne fermenting tanks were stolen from outside a Port Coquitlam brewery under construction.

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Talk about a thirsty thieves!

RCMP are investigating after two massive one-tonne fermenting tanks were stolen from outside a Port Coquitlam brewery under construction.

The five-metre high tanks are valued at $20,000 each.

The owner of Boardwalk Brewing, Phil Saxe, said that the plan was to pour concrete for the floor this week, and begin brewing by December.

He noticed the tanks were missing when he showed up for work on Monday.

“It was pretty devastating, obviously,” Saxe told CBC.

He said a crane or specialized forklift would have to be used to steal the tanks.

Saxe said he’s offering a reward for any tips.

“If your neighbour looks like they’re building a brewery in their backyard and some new tanks showed up please let us know. These are worth way more to us than they are in scrap,” he said.

“This is the first that I’ve heard of fermenters being stolen — and something this large. There was a blue tarp that went with them, so I would imagine that would have been covering them on the way out,” said Const. Deanna Law to the CBC.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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