POLITICS

Alberta's Redford refuses to play Chicken Little on falling oil prices

06/06/2012 03:24 EDT | Updated 08/07/2012 01:34 EDT
CALGARY - Alison Redford says she's not about to go all Chicken Little over falling oil prices.

The Alberta premier is standing by projections that her government will have a surplus next year, despite oil prices that are lower than expected.

Redford says Alberta has always had to deal with price fluctuations and she likes to think long term.

"We are not a caucus that is going to run around saying, 'The sky is falling. The sky is falling,'" Redford said Wednesday. "We have plans, we have choices that we need to make and we are going to govern based on that."

She noted that this year's budget is based on oil hitting a price of $99.25 a barrel and the average this fiscal year is slightly less than $90. As of Wednesday afternoon, crude was up $1.05 to $85.34 a barrel.

Prices have been buffeted over the last few weeks as the worsening eurozone crisis stalls an already fragile global economic recovery. Commodity prices have been hitting multi-month lows.

The Alberta budget tabled in February calls for a $952-million surplus in 2013-2014 after years of deficits. The deficit in this year's budget was $886 million. It's the fifth in a row after 14 years of surpluses.

Redford said she is "very confident" the province can hit its projections.

"We'll always be responsive to change. We are sensitive to change, but ... at this point in time the average price for the fiscal year is slightly under 90 and because of that I think we can have confidence in the plan," she said.

"What I am not going to do is spend every day responding to a question about what we are going to do because the price of oil is lower. This is about big picture ... long-term planning."