As Alberta emerges from the worst recession in a generation, things are looking up. Budget 2018 works to move Alberta off the resource revenue rollercoaster by building a more resilient and diversified economy based on stable, predictable funding, and getting the most value out of our resources.
Budget 2018 also sets the path to balancing the budget by 2023-24 by ensuring public dollars are invested where they are needed most, while at the same time eliminating waste, controlling spending and finding efficiencies.
“The recession is behind us and Alberta’s economy is looking up. Alberta’s economy is creating good, mortgage-paying jobs and Alberta led the country in economic growth last year and is poised to do so again in 2018. We will hold the line on spending increases and invest in new opportunities that create good jobs and diversify the economy. We will make sure the benefits of Alberta’s strengthening economic recovery will reach all Albertans and is built to last.”
Both the government and the Conference Board of Canada forecast Alberta’s economy to grow by 2.7 per cent this year, placing the province among the growth leaders in Canada and well above the national rate.
Employment growth is expected to accelerate in 2018, growing by 2.0 per cent over the year. As employment increases again this year, the unemployment rate is forecast to fall further to 6.8 per cent for 2018.
“The budget is working to diversify the economy. It increases access to capital for entrepreneurs, strengthens our technology sector, attracts investment to the petrochemical industry and adds more low-cost renewable energy in our communities. It will accomplish all of this and more while protecting vulnerable Albertans, supporting the services folks rely on and putting us on a path to balanced budgets without extreme service cuts. We are truly making life better and more affordable in Alberta while building an economy for the long haul.”
Highlights of Budget 2018
Diversifying the energy sector
- Investing $1 billion for partial upgrading over eight years beginning in 2019-20, through tools such as loan guarantees and grants, to attract up to $5 billion in private investment, improve pipeline capacity and add value to Alberta energy products while creating thousands of new jobs.
- Generating up to $6 billion in private investment for natural gas processing through $500 million in royalty credits beginning in 2020-21 for a second phase of the extremely successful Petrochemicals Diversification Program.
- Encouraging construction of new extraction facilities with $500 million in loan guarantees and grants for a Petrochemical Feedstock Infrastructure Program.
Diversification across our economy
- Extending the Capital Investment Tax Credit, which already supports more than $1 billion in private-sector capital projects, and the Alberta Investor Tax Credit.
- Launching a $20-million new Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit to attract and retain more tech entrepreneurs.
- Funding 3,000 new post-secondary technology spaces over the next five years and new scholarships to support technology and other emerging sectors like life sciences, clean technology and health innovation.
Protecting vital public services
- Continuing capital investment in health facilities, including the Calgary Cancer Centre and the new Edmonton hospital.
- Supporting the shift to better community-based care by funding hundreds of new continuing care beds.
- Fully funding enrolment growth in the K-12 education system and reducing school fees.
- Extending the post-secondary tuition freeze for the fourth year.
- Creating 4,500 additional affordable child-care spaces through the Early Learning and Child Care Centre Program.
- Reviewing the Persons with Developmental Disabilities Program to ensure it provides the right supports.
Returning to balance
- Reaching practical agreements with labour unions to control costs.
- Continuing the salary freeze on non-union public-sector employees.
- Cutting salaries and eliminating bonuses for some of the highest paid executives of Alberta’s agencies, boards and commissions.
- Keeping the size of the Alberta Public Service flat.
- Keeping health spending growth below population growth plus inflation.
- Dissolving and amalgamating government agencies, boards and commissions.
- Tightly managing discretionary spending across government in areas such as travel, conferences and hospitality.