REFILE-Alberta's NDP turns to ex-Bank of Canada Governor Dodge for advice

Fri Jun 19, 2015 3:40pm EDT
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(Refiles to correct spelling of "advice" in headline.)

CALGARY, Alberta, June 19 (Reuters) - Former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge has been enlisted by the newly elected left-wing government of Alberta province to advise it on how to bankroll infrastructure upgrades while low oil prices put a damper on revenues.

Dodge, an economist who ran Canada's central bank for seven years until January 2008, will look at how the New Democrat government can pay for new schools, hospitals and roads promised during the campaign.

"We have to consider what the economic outlook ... is going to be," Dodge told reporters at a news conference on Friday with Premier Rachel Notley. "That will determine what ought to be done, how fast it ought to be done and how it ought to be financed."

Notley's New Democratic Party won a surprise majority in Alberta's May election, ending 44 years of Conservative rule in the province that is the largest source of U.S. oil imports.

The NDP is short on legislative experience, however, and Notley has sought to reassure Albertans that she will deliver on pledges of improved services while restraining the growth of public debt.

"We're dealing with a global economic downturn and an extended decline in energy revenues," Notley said. "Investing in infrastructure in a slowing economy is a challenge but it's a challenge we need to meet."

Notley declined to say how much her government expects to spend on capital programs over its four-year term.

The former Conservative government had been expected to spend nearly C$24.3 billion ($19.8 billion) on capital construction programs through 2019. Notley said Dodge will recommend an appropriate figure ahead of a budget in the fall.

Alberta will pay C$100,000 to have the former bank governor and his staff study the province's infrastructure needs over the summer, Notley told reporters.

($1 = 1.2259 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Tom Brown)