Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews said the province’s latest budget secures the province’s position as the “economic engine of Canada.”
The province forecasts a surplus of $2.4 billion on $70.7 billion in revenue. That means their expenses come in at $68.3 billion in 2023/24, which is $2.6 billion more than forecast last year.
“Budget 23 secures Alberta’s future by growing and diversifying the economy, strengthening health care and education, improving the safety of communities across the province, and establishing a new fiscal framework,” said Toews.
“This plan achieves the priorities of Albertans, which include ensuring the government lives within its means.”
Toews said that their previous budgets set the stage for them to provide more resources to areas like healthcare, affordability and public safety.
The province predicts that $79 will be the price of oil over the next year. They also expect real GDP growth of 2.8 per cent in 2023, which would be the fastest pace in the country.
The province will net $14 billion in personal income taxes and $6.9 billion in corporate income tax.
The Alberta NDP said the budget included fake projections and agenda items hidden within it. NDP leader Rachel Notley alluded to the upcoming provincial election.
“It hides Danielle Smith’s worst ideas, while sidelining the real priorities of Alberta families,” she said.
“Albertans don’t have to accept this budget. In just a few short months, you will have a choice and you can choose better.
Calgary gets project cash
The province’s capital plan is $23 billion, with a sizeable portion allocated to Calgary projects. It’s likely to be the battleground in the upcoming provincial election. (More from Mayor Gondek below.)
Mayor Jyoti Gondek dismissed the idea that it was a pre-election budget designed to get votes in Calgary. She said it's a budget that signals clearly the projects the province is interested in moving forward.
"Tell you what, if I was trying to win votes, I'd be pumping a whole lot of money into the place I was trying to win votes from. This is not that," she said.
"It is an indication of where they would like to partner with us. I don't know that this is a budget that is seeking out voting opportunities."
The mayor was happy to see the film and tax credit boost in the budget. Film has been a boon to Calgary's economy in recent years.
She was also happy to see $5 million set aside for a design and engineering study to get the Blue Line one station further north and over to the airport to create a connection. The mayor said she also believes that would include a ridership study.
One area that she wasn't happy about was in the lack of cash to help with Calgary's downtown.
"I was disappointed that it was only $5 million in the last budget. This time it's zero million so I should have been happy the last time around," Mayor Gondek said.
The city had asked for funding to help with office-to-post-secondary conversions, and with matching funding for their current downtown office conversation project.
"None of that seems to have taken place in this budget," the mayor said.
She said that Arts Commons didn't see any funding, Olympic Plaza didn't either. (Nor the multisport fieldhouse.)
"Together with not matching any funding for the conversions, I think that's a missed opportunity for the province," she said.