The global recession may be coming to an end, but Premier Ed Stelmach warned yesterday the province’s revenues will lag for another year or two.

“There’s no question that we are facing difficult times,” the premier said during a news conference yesterday. “We face two or three challenging years as the economy recovers from the global recession.”

Because of Alberta’s volatile revenue stream, Stelmach said the province has put aside close to $25 billion, including $17 billion into the Sustainability Fund.

“The Sustainability Fund is just like a home bank account savings fund to deal with issues that may come up unexpectedly,” Stelmach said. “We set the money aside to make sure we had money in the bank to deal with decreases in provincial revenues.”

Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman was skeptical about how long the Sustainability Fund will last.

“A year ago, we were all here to hear about the government’s $8.5-billion surplus, and now we’re here to hear about an almost $7-billion deficit,” Blakeman said.

Not enough has been set aside, Blakeman said.

“A year ago we had so much and the Alberta Liberals were begging the government to put money away and they absolutely scoffed at that,” Blakeman said.

“At the rate they’re going, they’re going to run through what is in the Sustainability Fund, I would say, in a year.”

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