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Fort McMurray wildfire adds $500M to Alberta's projected deficit

Last Updated Aug 23, 2016 at 3:11 pm MST

Smoke from the May wildfire seen from downtown. NKS Photography. Used with permission.

The wildfire this spring is expected to increase the overall provincial budget by about $500 million this year, according to Finance Minister Joe Ceci.

He announced Tuesday he had to revise the projected deficit upward in the first-quarter fiscal update to almost $11 billion from $10.4 billion.

Ceci said the $500 million represents recovery costs and about $300 million in lost revenues because the disaster curtailed oil and forestry production in northern Alberta.

The official opposition isn’t pleased with the latest fiscal update.

“Today is the end of the fiscal legacy Albertans worked so hard to earn,” said Wildrose leader and Fort McMurray Conklin MLA Brian Jean. “The NDP’s plan is making things worse for Alberta families at a time we can least afford it.”

Shadow Finance Minister Derek Fildebrandt said there is no attempt to save money or begin to steer the province back to balance.

“Instead,” he said, “the NDP continue to raise taxes and rack up debt that fuel credit downgrades every few months.”

Ceci said the fire, along with persistent low oil prices, will continue to depress Alberta’s fortunes this year, but things are expected to improve in 2017.

With files from the Canadian Press and 660 News Calgary