The Prentice PCs presented a budget in March 2015 and treated the 2015 Alberta election like a referendum on the 5-year fiscal plan. The PCs lost the election, of course, but the Prentice budget documents give us a way to evaluate what the NDP have done in comparison to a conservative vision of the province.

Prentice’s plan is way too optimistic about the oil price recovery. He estimated the average oil price at $54.84 in 15-16 and $62.80 in 16-17. When you factor in the actual price of oil for 15-16 and 16-17 and the Fort Mac fire, the Prentice budget would have yielded similar deficits to the NDP’s budgets to date.

But under Prentice, Albertans making over 50k/year would be paying health care user fees ($396M in 15-16 and $530M in 16-17), we’d still have a flat tax (although by January 1st 2018 it’d be 1.5% higher for everyone), large corporations wouldn’t have received a modest tax hike (12% is still too low, but an improvement), new student enrollment wouldn’t be covered (and our number of teachers would be 100s smaller), post-secondary tuition wouldn’t have been frozen for the past 2 years, Calgary wouldn’t be building a cancer centre, health spending would be more than a billion less than now, 2,000 public sector jobs would have been eliminated through attrition, more of our new infrastructure would be financed by P3s (enabling financiers to profit off of roads, schools, etc), and the Heritage Fund would be $15.5B, not the current $19B.

Prentice was playing coy about how the PCs would achieve a $950M cut to health care in one year, so he never admitted it would cost front line jobs. But you don’t cut $950M from health care in one year by using fewer paper clips.

The Prentice budget documents: