The Alberta NDP government’s 2017 budget was presented on March 16 and projects a $10.3 billion deficit this year on revenue of $45 billion. While the budget will see Alberta go further into the red, despite its implementation of a carbon levy, it also promises hospital spending, new schools and other infrastructure along with more money for seniors and social services. Opposition leaders have loudly been calling for the government to curb pending, saying that the cost of a growing debt load will handicap future generations unfairly.

However, Alberta’s population is still growing despite the economic downturn caused by low oil/gas prices. Cutting services and deferring capital projects could hurt the economy short term and may jeopardize future prosperity. The budget sets aside $4.5 billion over four years for infrastructure project and $100 million to help First Nations reserves get reliable access to clean drinking water

Education spending is on the rise and cutting school fees for parents to the tune of $54 million was announced earlier. Plans to build 10 new schools and upgrade or replace 16 more are in the works as is a freeze on post-secondary tuition fees. The province is investing heavily in tax credits and other financial incentives to diversify the economy and get off what it calls the “oil and gas roller-coaster.” The speaker will put Alberta’s current economic difficulties into perspective and look to his “crystal ball” for answers on how Alberta can overcome the plague of boom and bust cycles.

Speaker: Dr. Chris Nicol

Dr. Christopher Nicol arrived on the U of L campus in 2001 and assumed his duties as a professor in economics while also serving as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. Nicol, took on the role of Acting University Librarian in Sept. 1, 2012 and was appointed to a three-year term as University Librarian July 1, 2013 and he will continue in that role for a five-year term effective July 1, 2016. Nicol will also continue on as a professor of economics in the Department of Economics while serving as the University Librarian.

An esteemed researcher, Nicol’s interests are in econometrics, applied econometrics and the theory of consumer behaviour. He has been awarded numerous grants from national funding agencies such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and was recently honoured with a Lethbridge Family Services Immigrant Achievement Award as a distinguished professional.

Moderator:   Bob Campbell

Date: Thursday, April 13, 2017 Time: Noon - 1:30 PM (30 minutes each for presentation, lunch and Q & A) Location: Country Kitchen Catering (Lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr. S Cost: $12.00 (includes lunch) or $2.00 (includes coffee/tea)

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