Albertans face deficits while oil industry prospers

'Without a change of course by their government, they can expect more of the same - generosity for the oil patch, discipline for citizens.' - Parkland Institute.

Download Misplaced Generosity - Extraordinary profits in Alberta's oil and gas industryCalgary (29 Nov. 2010) - Despite an Alberta deficit now forecast to reach $5 billion this year, a new report from the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute reports that provincial residents have foregone tens of billions in potential revenues as a result of excessive cuts to oil and gas royalties paid by energy companies.

In fact, the Conservative government of Premier Ed Stelmach has failed to meet even its own modest royalty revenue targets, the study says.

Entitled Misplaced Generosity: Extraordinary profits in Alberta’s oil and gas industry, the report takes a closer look at whether the oil patch actually needed the latest string of royalty cuts enacted by the province and asks some tough questions about the scale of energy profits and how the government has managed this province’s most important economic file.

“Albertans are already enduring a recession and a variety of cuts to public services,” says author Regan Boychuk, public policy research manager with the institute.

The report traces the scale of industry profits over the last decade and delivers some much-needed scrutiny to the government’s series of drilling incentives and royalty holidays that have cost the provincial treasury billions in public revenue.

Debunking myths about Alberta’s supposedly higher oilfield costs, investment fleeing to neighbours and risks associated with the oil and gas business in Alberta, the study also exposes the publicly-funded roots of oil production in the tar sands and reiterates recommendations to improve the accountability and oversight of the government’s management of oil and gas revenues.

“Properly managed in Albertans’ interest,” Boychuk says, “oil and gas revenue could quickly accumulate to a sizable fund that could sustainably generate many billions in investment revenue to support annual budgets for generations to come.”

The Parkland Institute is a non-partisan public policy research institute in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta.

The Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE) is circulating information about the report and urging its members and the public to download a copy or contact the institute for a hard copy.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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Misplaced Generosity: Extraordinary profits in Alberta’s oil and gas industry