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date,CurrentValue,OriginalValue
1977,8.41,2.17
1978,11.37,3.21
1979,14.40,4.43
1980,16.68,5.63
1981,20.03,7.57
1982,22.95,9.66
1983,25.06,11.35
1984,24.58,11.74
1985,24.73,12.25
1986,24.60,12.69
1987,23.63,12.68
1988,22.49,12.55
1989,21.24,12.40
1990,19.92,12.26
1991,18.53,12.11
1992,18.11,12.03
1993,17.56,11.95
1994,17.44,11.88
1995,17.05,11.83
1996,16.83,11.83
1997,16.70,12.00
1998,16.57,12.03
1999,16.46,12.03
2000,16.33,12.26
2001,15.88,12.26
2002,15.65,12.26
2003,13.86,11.36
2004,13.77,11.36
2005,13.48,11.36
2006,15.67,13.50
2007,17.10,15.03
2008,18.34,16.41
2009,15.25,13.84
2010,15.01,13.84
2011,15.08,14.20
2012,15.16,14.65
2013,15.14,14.81
2014,15.16,15.01
date,pcplan
1977,8.41
1978,11.37
1979,14.40
1980,16.68
1981,20.03
1982,22.95
1983,25.06
1984,24.58
1985,24.73
1986,24.60
1987,23.63
1988,22.49
1989,21.24
1990,19.92
1991,18.53
1992,18.11
1993,17.56
1994,17.44
1995,17.05
1996,16.83
1997,16.70
1998,16.57
1999,16.46
2000,16.33
2001,15.88
2002,15.65
2003,13.86
2004,13.77
2005,13.48
2006,15.67
2007,17.10
2008,18.34
2009,15.25
2010,15.01
2011,15.08
2012,15.16
2013,15.14
2014,15.16
2015,16.54
2016,17.92
2017,19.30
2018,20.68
2019,22.05
2020,23.43
2021,24.81
2022,26.19
2023,27.57
2024,28.95
2025,30.32
date,wildroseplan
1977,8.41
1978,11.37
1979,14.40
1980,16.68
1981,20.03
1982,22.95
1983,25.06
1984,24.58
1985,24.73
1986,24.60
1987,23.63
1988,22.49
1989,21.24
1990,19.92
1991,18.53
1992,18.11
1993,17.56
1994,17.44
1995,17.05
1996,16.83
1997,16.70
1998,16.57
1999,16.46
2000,16.33
2001,15.88
2002,15.65
2003,13.86
2004,13.77
2005,13.48
2006,15.67
2007,17.10
2008,18.34
2009,15.25
2010,15.01
2011,15.08
2012,15.16
2013,15.14
2014,15.16
2015,23.97
2016,32.77
2017,41.57
2018,50.37
2019,59.17
2020,67.97
2021,76.78
2022,85.58
2023,94.38
2024,103.18
2025,111.98
2026,120.79
2027,129.59
2028,138.39
2029,147.19
2030,155.99
2031,164.80
2032,173.60
2033,182.40
2034,191.20
2035,200
date,ndpplan
1977,8.41
1978,11.37
1979,14.40
1980,16.68
1981,20.03
1982,22.95
1983,25.06
1984,24.58
1985,24.73
1986,24.60
1987,23.63
1988,22.49
1989,21.24
1990,19.92
1991,18.53
1992,18.11
1993,17.56
1994,17.44
1995,17.05
1996,16.83
1997,16.70
1998,16.57
1999,16.46
2000,16.33
2001,15.88
2002,15.65
2003,13.86
2004,13.77
2005,13.48
2006,15.67
2007,17.10
2008,18.34
2009,15.25
2010,15.01
2011,15.08
2012,15.16
2013,15.14
2014,15.16
date,Alaska,Alberta
2006,44.83,15.67
2007,42.46,17.1
2008,48.69,18.34
2009,34.20,15.25
2010,35.87,15.01
2011,42.94,15.08
2012,41.11,15.16
2013,48.44,15.14
2014,59.14,15.16

Overview

The Heritage Savings Trust Fund was established by Premier Peter Lougheed in 1976 with the goal of setting aside non-renewable resource revenues at a time when Alberta’s oil reserves were thought to be running dry and money would be needed to build the foundations of a modern, diversified economy.

$100,000,000  

History

The Heritage Fund grew steadily through its first decade with an annual investment of 30 per cent of provincial energy revenues. In 1987 Premier Don Getty put a stop to the transfers and subsequent governments have spent largely all of Alberta’s energy revenues. Despite strong investment returns and some small top-ups, the fund’s value has essentially flat-lined.

PC plan

A crash in oil prices has turned the management of the Heritage Fund into a major election issue in Alberta. The province’s Progressive Conservatives have promised to double the fund’s size by 2025. To achieve that goal, the PCs would invest 25 per cent of all energy revenues into the fund starting in 2019. Once the province’s debt was paid off, 50 per cent would be transferred annually into the fund.

Wildrose plan

The Wildrose plan espoused by Leader Brian Jean would treat energy royalties as a regular source of revenue, no different from income taxes. Under Mr. Jean’s plan, half of annual budgetary surpluses, if the government did post a surplus, would be sent to the Heritage Fund. He says the fund will grow to $200-billion by 2035.

NDP plan

Unlike their two main challengers, the Alberta New Democrats have not set a target for how much they'd like to grow the Heritage Fund. Without access to government data and resources, NDP Leader Rachel Notley has said that it would be irresponsible to commit to a strict plan. However the NDP has said that it would establish a Resource Owners Rights Commission once in government to determine if Albertans were getting a good value for their natural resources. If that Commission recommended increasing royalties, 100 per cent of that increase would go to the Heritage Fund.

Norway’s Oil Fund

With an oil-rich economy similar in size to Alberta and a similar population, Norway created its Oil Fund in 1990. The comparisons between the two jurisdictions, while frequent, don’t extend to their respective attitudes towards government, taxation and putting money into savings. The Norwegian fund’s market value stands at about $1-trillion (CAD)—or over 65 times the size of Alberta’s Heritage Fund.

The entire Alberta Heritage fund, or $15.16-billion  

Alaska's Permanent Fund

Albertans fed up with the comparison to Norway might find Alaska a more palatable model. Since 1976, the same year Alberta’s Heritage Fund was created, Alaska has put the state’s surplus oil revenues into the Alaska Permanent Fund. The fund pays out an annual dividend to Alaskans from investment income. Spending on state programs is kept to a minimum.

Conclusions

Through times of rich surpluses and deep deficits, Alberta’s Tory government has failed to set aside most energy royalties for 27 years. PC Leader Jim Prentice has pledged to stop pillaging Alberta’s piggybank and says he will start investing in the Heritage Fund again. Mr. Prentice says the fund should be used by future generations when the province’s oil sands are no longer the economic engine they are today.

By diverting up to 50 per cent of energy royalties into the Heritage Fund instead of government revenue, Mr. Prentice’s plan would put more of the burden of financing government operations on Alberta’s taxpayers. According to the Wildrose, their plan to treat energy royalties as regular revenue would force a more honest look at the government’s spending.

If Alberta does move towards saving more for the future, a richer Heritage Fund will probably come with a real cost for residents who will either receive fewer services than they are used to or will face higher taxes.

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