(Edmonton) Alberta projects a budget surplus of $2.4 billion this year, thanks in part to its oil-fueled economy, and pledges to significantly reduce the province’s debt and prevent deficits during slides. oil price.
This is the first budget under Premier Danielle Smith of the United Conservative Party, and the last before the provincial election scheduled for May.
Provincial spending will increase in almost every area, especially health, education and the justice system, in the 2023-24 fiscal year.
Billions of dollars are planned for the construction of new schools, new roads and new bridges. A new business school will see the light of day in Edmonton, while ambulances will be added everywhere. The government will also invest to hire more Crown prosecutors and to add training in schools in high-demand sectors such as health, energy, business and innovation.
Numerous major expenditures have been revealed in recent weeks, including 158 million to recruit and retain health care workers and 243 million over three years to increase frontline care, to reduce bottlenecks in the rooms. emergency.
The budget, introduced by Finance Minister Travis Toews, also promises to cap post-secondary tuition fee increases beginning in 2024.
Alberta, with a population of 4.4 million, is on track to generate revenue of $70.7 billion and spend nearly $67 billion. Another $1.5 billion is set aside for unforeseen emergency expenses.
Oil sands money remains the province’s main economic driver, with royalties alone expected to bring in $12.6 billion.
Oil prices dipped into negative territory at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic only to rebound over the past 24 months as the global economy recovered and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused drive up prices.
Alberta’s oil booms allowed him to pay his bills while maintaining the lowest tax system in Canada, with no provincial sales tax.
However, while successive governments have tied operating expenses to the ups and downs of oil prices, oil booms have seen sky-high surpluses accompanied by equally sky-high deficits during tough times.
Mr. Toews therefore presented a plan to have balanced budgets that can only go into the red in an emergency.
Even if such events occur, the government should regain balance in two years. Spending increases would also be limited to inflation and population growth.
The surplus for the year that is about to end was on the way to 12.3 billion, but it will eventually reach 10.4 billion.
The difference is to help pay $3.5 billion in inflation relief packages as well as a new deal for doctors and wages in negotiations with public sector unions.