Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says anyone who claims the province can balance its budget in two or three years is talking about thousands of layoffs.
Notley made the comment at an Edmonton school a day after her NDP government delivered a budget that forecasts a $10.3-billion deficit this year, putting Alberta on track to rack up $45-billion in debt by the end of this year.
Notley says she knows Albertans are worried about the growing size of the debt, but says it is “absolutely manageable.”
She says when schools and hospitals aren’t built to keep up with population growth, that actually creates debt.
Opposition leaders have called for the government to curb spending and say crushing future debt loads will threaten front-line services
Notley says there’s a huge backlog of unfunded infrastructure, which she says is also debt, and that paying that off is more expensive.
READ MORE: Alberta Budget 2017: Winners and losers
The province anticipates its debt will hit $71 billion by 2020. Debt servicing costs will be $1.4 billion this year and $2.3 billion by the end of the decade.