“Fiscal responsibility matters. It’s been key to achieving our strong fiscal standing and will be essential for sustainable program delivery in the future. In Budget 2023, we continue our commitment to paying down debt all while continuing to position our economy for growth and invest in the top priorities of Albertans.” – President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews
Budget 2023 was tabled today and, as expected, came with big-ticket items funded by a significant surplus. This is the fifth fiscal plan for Finance Minister Travis Toews but his first under the leadership of Premier Smith and the second balanced budget for the province in more than a decade. The United Conservative Party (UCP) was ambitious and generous with its investments, announcing a total budget of $68.3 billion thanks to a surplus of $10.3 billion, in credit to strong natural resource revenue. It forecasts a $2.4 billion surplus for 2023-24. Before the official release today, the UCP has spent the last couple of weeks announcing key pieces of Budget 2023.
Aligning with consistent UCP priority areas, including health care spending, affordability measures, and securing Alberta’s financial future, Budget 2023 also included investments directed at advancing post-secondary education in the province, supporting municipalities and rural Alberta priorities, enhancing Indigenous opportunities, and supporting the province’s energy sector. With a robust budget outlining significant investments, it’s clear this document is designed to be a key pillar in the UCP’s election campaign, with the official voting day now only a mere 90 days away.
Budget 2023 will now need to be passed in the legislature, but it’s unlikely to face any hurdles. This spring legislative session concludes on March 30, 2023.
Strengthening health care
Budget 2023 increases health operating expenses by $965 million from the 2022-23 forecast to $24.5 billion. New funding will go towards:
- $211 million over three years to strengthen EMS and replace or upgrade EMS vehicles and equipment
- $4.2 billion over three years for health care-related infrastructure
- $158 million in 2023-23 toward workforce planning to increase the number of health care professionals
- $237 million over three years for the Alberta Surgical Initiative Capital program
- $243 million over three years through Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System (MAPS)
Affordability is top of mind for the government, and Budget 2023 continues to provide relief through the Affordability Action Plan. Investments included:
- Providing $361 million more over three years in support of the Affordability Action Plan to support the Alberta Child and Family Benefit
- $102 million per year to increase wages of more than 20,000 social sector workers beginning in 2023-24
- $20 million over two years to food banks and civil society organizations to provide food security support
- $22 million over two years for low-income transit pass programs in more communities
Keeping Albertans and communities safe
Focused on positioning Alberta as a role model for safe and secure communities, including securing the safety and well-being of all Albertans. Budget 2023 allocates:
- $1.2 billion annually in operating expenses for Public Safety and Emergency Services
- $709 million for public security in 2023-24
- $111 million over three years for correctional services
- $65 million over three years to strengthen First Nations policing
- $103 million in justice facilities operations and infrastructure
Boosting Alberta’s Advantage
With a focus on job creation, economic growth, diversification and investment attraction, Budget 2023 sets the stage for Alberta to remain Canada’s economic engine for years to come, with Budget 2023 including:
- $2.3 billion over three years for key projects and programs that expand and improve Alberta’s road and bridge network
- $176 million in 2025-26 for the Alberta at Work initiative to continue to help address labour shortages
- $111 million over three years to support targeted post-secondary enrolment in high-demand sectors
- $95 million over three years to help address the shortage of health care workers in the province
Responsible Fiscal Management
A surplus is forecasted for only the fourth time in the last 15 years, so Alberta 2023 makes investments to support the long-term sustainability of government programs, including a $2 billion injection into the Heritage Trust Fund and a $1.5 billion in unallocated contingency funding, a portion of Alberta’s surplus earmarked for disaster and emergency assistance.
“Let’s be clear, this is a fraudulent budget designed to buy votes ahead of the election and then spring the costs on Albertans after the polls have closed. It hides Danielle Smith’s worst ideas, while sidelining the real priorities of Alberta families.” – Official Leader of the Opposition, Rachel Notley
As expected, Alberta’s New Democrat Party (NDP) has their own vision for the province’s future. Notley and the NDP advance that spending outlined in Budget 2023 fails to address previous cuts and damages done by the UCP. They advocate that Premier Smith’s priorities are at odds with everyday Albertans, as evidenced by RStar and the recent controversy surrounding government contracts.
On February 15, Notley announced the AB NDP Family Health Teams Strategy that will connect 1 million more Albertans to a family doctor and health team, with a projected cost is over $220 million. It’s expected that the NDP will be making more announcements in the coming weeks as it gears up for the election.
Get in Touch
As Western Canada’s Public Affairs firm, Canadian Strategy Group can help you read between the budget lines to help position your organization for government priorities. Contact our Vice President, Government Relations, Brent Kossey, to learn more.