06/29/2016 01:50 EDT | Updated 06/29/2016 01:59 EDT

Alberta's Deficit Hit $6.4 Billion In 2015

The economy contracted by 3.7 per cent.


EDMONTON — Alberta says depressed oil prices and a shrinking economy pushed its deficit up to $6.4 billion last year — $324 million higher than expected.

Revenues for the fiscal year that ended March 31 were down more than anticipated due, in part, to lower resource revenue and a reduced take in corporate and personal income taxes.

The government says Alberta's economy contracted by 3.7 per cent in 2015.

Spending increased for health care and education — areas the NDP government has pledged to shield from the economic downturn.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the government chose to maintain key public services instead of cutting staff and spending during challenging times.

The government plans to wait until its next budget update in August to estimate how the Fort McMurray wildfire will affect its bottom line this year.

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