Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund

The Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund was established in 1976 by an Act of Legislature with initial resources of $1.5 billion in cash and assets from the General Revenue Fund. Its purpose is to save and invest revenues from Alberta's oil and gas. From 1976 to 1982-83 its funds were derived from an annual transfer of 30% of Alberta's nonrenewable resource revenues and retention of the fund's investment earnings. From 1983-84 to 1986-87 the transfer of resource revenue was reduced to 15% and, effective April 1987, the transfer of resource revenues was suspended. In 1985-86 the fund received 15% of these revenues, totalling $685 million. In 1987 the fund was at $12.7 billion, its peak worth to date.

From mid-1982 the fund's investment income was transferred to the province's budget. During 1985-86, $1.67 billion was transferred, providing support equal to 2 months out of 12 of budgetary expenditures. In 1992-93, $785 million was transferred, providing support for less than one month of budgetary expenditures. Money from the fund has been invested in capital projects to provide long-term benefits to Alberta, eg, Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority ($419 million to 1992-93), the Walter C. Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre ($391 million), Kananaskis Country Recreation Development ($225 million) and major irrigation projects ($503 million). Other investments include the debentures of provincial Crown corporations, such as the Alberta Opportunity Company ($128 million to 1992-93), Alberta Agricultural Development Corporation ($1013 million) and Alberta Mortgage and Housing Corporation ($1661 million). Investments in development projects include participation in the Syncrude project ($499 million) and loans for the Prince Rupert Grain Terminal ($134 million), the Millar Western Pulp Mill in Whitecourt ($74 million) and the ALPAC pulp mill in Athabasca ($129 million). Prior to 1982-83, the fund also provided loans to other Canadian provinces ($1.2 billion in debentures were held at the end of 1991-92).

On 1 January 1997, a new Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund Act took effect, restructuring the institution into a transition portfolio, designed to earn income for the province, and an endowment portfolio to focus on long-term financial returns. Subject to certain conditions, the fund can now also retain sufficient investment income to protect it from inflation. As of the end of 1996, the fund's assets stand at about $12 billion.