Thursday, March 30, 2023

Alberta Budget 2020: UCP government delivers new financial plan

Alberta’s United Conservative government has delivered its second budget in less than five months. You can read the full budget document here: Alberta Budget 2020

On Thursday (Feb. 27), Finance Minister Travis Toews delivered an updated blueprint for the province which includes some new fees and taxes and job losses in the public sector.

Toews says Budget 2020 continues the government’s focus on creating jobs, growing our economy and streamlining programs and services to ensure a sustainable future. “Our plan is working. We are on track to balance the budget by 2022-23 and Alberta’s surplus in that year is expected to be higher than that projected in Budget 2019. We are also maintaining funding for health and education while ensuring each dollar is wisely spent on what Albertans need most”.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Increase in province-wide education tax by 3.1%
  • Post-secondary tuition fee increases anticipated to be 6.9% each year for next three years
  • Increase in fees for some provincial camping spots by around $10/night in some places
  • New vaping tax of 20%
  • Short-term rentals like Airbnb to start collecting 4% tourism levy
  • Infrastructure spending set at $19 billion over next three years
  • A total of 684 Government of Alberta positions to be cut
  • 398 job losses in post-secondary education this year
  • 244 certified & uncertified positions to be cut in K-12 education

The province says also included in Budget 2020 is A Blueprint for Jobs – the government’s plan to get Albertans back to work. It supports dynamic growth from the technology, energy, agriculture and forestry sectors and supports diversification in other key sectors through initiatives.

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The 2020 Capital Plan commits $6.9 billion in 2020-21 to build and maintain key infrastructure projects across the province. Over the course of the three-year fiscal plan, an estimated $772 million in new projects will be added, bringing the total capital plan to $19.3 billion. The government notes this will create opportunities for private sector participation and support more than 3,000 jobs, increasing employment by 2022.

As expected, Budget 2020 is getting a big thumbs down from the New Democrats. Leader Rachel Notley says this fiscal plan cuts deeply into schools and hospitals, imposes hundreds of millions of dollars of new taxes and fees onto Alberta families.

“At the end of the day, this budget fails on every count,” Notley said. “It doesn’t make life better for Albertans, it doesn’t create jobs, it doesn’t resemble fiscal responsibility. And with all that, it rests on a make-believe framework of economic projections that most people know are not true.”

Third-quarter results show the deficit has declined more than expected. With the deficit $1.2 billion lower than projected in Budget 2019, Alberta taxpayers can expect to pay $35 million less in debt-servicing costs.

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