Alberta Premiers and Government Spending

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Alberta Premiers and Government Spending


  • This bulletin reviews annual per-person program spending (inflation-adjusted) by Al­berta premiers since 1965.
  • There are two main periods of prolonged increases in per-person spending. The first runs from the mid-1960s to early 1980s. Spe­cifically, per-person spending increased from $3,216 in 1965 to $12,305 in 1982.
  • After generally decreasing over the next decade and a half, a second period of prolonged per-person spending growth began in the late 1990s. Per-person spending increased from $7,154 in 1996 to $13,114 in 2008, ushering in a new era of permanently higher spending.
  • The highest single year of per-person spending ($13,719) between 1965 and 2020 was under Premier Rachel Notley in 2017. In fact, the provincial government spent more in 2017 than it did during COVID-19 in 2020.
  • The second highest year of per-person spending ($13,649) occurred in 2020 during COVID-19 under Premier Jason Kenney. Non- COVID-related spending was $12,347 per per­son that year.
  • Overall, Premier Ernest Manning recorded the largest average annual increase in per-person spending (11.7%), though data are only available for four fiscal years of his tenure (1965 to 1968). Harry Strom (1969-1971) recorded the next largest increase at 8.5%, and Peter Lougheed (1972-1985) followed at 5.8%.
  • Two periods—the Redford-Hancock-Pren­tice period and the Don Getty period—recorded average per-person declines.

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