Premier Ed Stelmach says tough times and tight-fisted budgets remain the order of the day in Alberta as new figures show the province is still expected to hit its forecast deficit of $4.7 billion.

“We’re holding the line on our expenditures, but we will continue to show a deficit based on the investment we’re making in infrastructure,” Stelmach told reporters yesterday.

“It’s going to be a tough year,” he added, given that Alberta’s resource-based economy is linked primarily to customers in the United States.

“There’s a considerable amount of unpredictability in some of the economic growth in the United States,” he said. “Americans are struggling.”

While natural gas prices are forecast to remain low, Stelmach said there are signs the overall resource industry is on the rebound.

He noted the government estimated that it would earn $600 million from oil and gas leases this year, but he said that figure is now forecast to come in at $2 billion this fiscal year.