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Alberta Budget 2021 Highlights

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Maintaining responsible spending

A careful approach to spending

Budget 2021’s responsible approach to spending will mean more investment in priority areas like health care, education and job creation.

Sound fiscal anchors

Budget 2021 is built on 3 fiscal anchors:

  • Keep net debt below 30% of GDP to help protect future generations from rising debt servicing costs.
  • Deliver services more cost effectively by bringing spending in line with other comparator provinces.
  • Re-establish a plan to balance the budget post-pandemic when a more stable level of predictability returns to the budgeting process.
    Getting back on track

    Operating expense

    • In 2021–22, operating expense is $1 billion higher than 2020–21 forecast and begins to normalize, remaining relatively flat over the next 2 years.

    Deficit

    • $18.2 billion deficit is targeted for 2021–22, $2 billion less than the 2020–21 forecast.
    • $11 billion and $8 billion deficits are targeted for 2022–23 and 2023–24 respectively.

    Declining deficit can be attributed to decreasing expense as:

    • the costs of the pandemic subside
    • the government works to streamline and modernize service delivery
    • revenue increases as the economy recovers
      Budget 2021 funding highlights

      Budget 2021 provides funding of:

      • $23 billion for health services
      • $8.2 billion operating expense for kindergarten to grade 12 (K to 12) education services
      • $6.3 to $6.4 billion operating expense for social services ministries
      • $136 million over 3 years for the Alberta Jobs Now program
      • $166 million over 3 years for the Innovation Employment Grant
      • $500 million in 2021–22 for additional investments in economic recovery

Investing in health care

Budget 2021 invests record funding in health care

Alberta’s government is increasing Health’s budget by over $900 million (or 4%) to $23 billion, and that’s excluding the impact of COVID-19.

  • $5.4 billion for physician compensation and development (including academic medicine)
  • $3.5 billion for community care, continuing care and home care programs, including $20 million over 4 years for palliative and end of life care
  • $1.9 billion for drugs and supplemental health benefits.
  • $34 million for children’s health supports to expand mental health and rehabilitation services for children and youth
  • $140 million over 4 years for mental health and addiction services
    Continuing the fight against COVID-19

    Budget 2021 invests in continued supports to protect Albertans as we enter the second year of the pandemic.

    • $1.25 billion COVID-19 Contingency to address health-care costs for responding to the pandemic, including surgical wait times and backlogs
    • This is in addition to $2.1 billion spend in 2020-21
      Getting health care back on track

      Budget 2021 invests $16 billion for Alberta Health Services operations. Includes:

      • Alberta Surgical Initiative
      • Continuing Care Capacity Plan
      • CT and MRI Access Initiative
        Investing in health care capital

        Budget 2021 commits $3.4 billion over 3 years for health related capital projects and programs, providing:

        • $2.2 billion for health facilities, with $143 million for 5 new projects
        • $766 million for Alberta Health Services self-financed capital, for parkades, equipment and other capital requirements
        • $343 million for capital maintenance and renewal of existing facilities
        • $90 million for health department IT projects

Preparing for recovery

Paving the way for jobs and investment

Alberta’s Recovery Plan is a bold strategy to create jobs that get people back to work, build infrastructure and diversify our economy. This includes the acceleration of the Job Creation Tax Cut, which creates employment opportunities by making Alberta one of the most attractive jurisdictions in North America for new business investment. Budget 2021 will spend an additional $3.1 billion in 2021–22 to continue supporting recovery plan strategies.

Building infrastructure to create 90,000 new jobs

Budget 2021 invests $1.7 billion more in capital funding in 2021–22 than what was planned in Budget 2020.

The 3-year Capital Plan now totals $20.7 billion and will support more than 50,000 direct and 40,000 indirect jobs through to 2024.

Diversifying the economy

In 2021–24, $1.5 billion invested in Alberta’s Recovery Plan.

Budget 2021 invests in established and emerging sectors that hold the greatest potential for growth and job creation, and are fundamental to our economic recovery including: energy; agriculture and forestry; tourism; finance and fintech; aviation, aerospace and logistics; and technology and innovation.

 

Economic recovery spending highlights

    • Innovation Employment Grant supports small and medium-sized businesses that invest in research and development
    • Developing framework to protect intellectual property in Alberta
    • Investment and Growth Strategy supports emerging sectors while building on our existing strengths
    • Invest Alberta provides supports and services to drive up investment and showcase Alberta as the best place in the world to do business

 

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Alberta

Alberta’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit working on record number of cases

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Article submitted by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team

ICE responds to surge in record number of case files

ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit has begun the new year with a number of arrests across Alberta. Twenty-four suspects have been charged with 60 offences related to the online sexual exploitation of children.

After receiving a record number of case referrals in 2020, ICE has been collaborating with its policing partners across the province to make arrests. Last year, ICE experienced nearly a 40% increase in its number of case referrals with over 2,100 intakes.

  • 2020-21 – 2,136;
  • 2019-20 – 1,555;
  • 2018-19 – 1,237;
  • 2017-18 – 903;
  • 2016-17 – 894;
  • 2015-16 – 749.

“This is a concerning consequence of our digital dependency during the pandemic. ALERT has responded by directing more tools and resources to our ICE units and we are prepared to travel to every corner of the province in order to stop child sex predators,” said ALERT CEO Supt. Dwayne Lakusta.

“The sexual exploitation of children is a crime that tears at the fabric of society and preys on our most vulnerable. Increased provincial funding is enabling ALERT to double the size of its ICE unit, ensuring it has the tools and resources to track down predators who commit these heinous acts and bring them to justice,” said Hon. Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

With new provincial funding, ALERT has sought to double the size of the ICE unit with the addition of investigators, forensic technicians, analysts, and disclosure clerks, along with new technologies and software applications. With now more than 50 positions, Alberta’s ICE unit is one of the largest of its kind in Canada.

Between January 1 and March 31, 2021, ICE arrested 24 suspects. There is no definitive link between the suspects other than the nature of offences allegedly committed.

The arrests came as the result of investigative referrals from the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre, which works with internet and social media providers to track and investigate online instances of child sexual exploitation.

Each of the suspects was charged with at least one child pornography offence:

  • Michael Antonio, 25-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Curt Backlund, 48-year-old man from Grande Prairie;
  • Brad Bailey, 19-year-old man from Marlboro;
  • Brett Beer, 54-year-old man from Onoway;
  • Eric Bultmann, 30-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Kevin Dykstra, 35-year-old man from Barrhead;
  • Brian Harrison, 35-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Jeremy Henderson, 42-year-old man from Okotoks;
  • Bryan Hillman, 39-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Christopher Hoffner, 34-year-old man from Medicine Hat;
  • James Kydd, 39-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Mica LePage, 44-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Jordan MacDonald, 30-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Cris Marshall, 29-year-old man from Stettler;
  • Stedson McDonald, 32-year-old man from Grande Prairie;
  • James Merrison, 21-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Traline Munn, 44-year-old man from Cold Lake;
  • Krishnamoort Nalla Naidu, 38-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Van Linh Nguyen, 24-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Ivan Scott, 47-year-old man from Cochrane;
  • Jerry Lee Thompson, 47-year-old from Fort MacLeod;
  • Hunter Tonneson, 20-year-old man from Blackfalds;
  • Chase Viau, 23-year-old man from Edmonton; and
  • Richard Westland, 45-year-old man from Medicine Hat.

During the investigations, ICE relied upon the assistance of a number of partner agencies, including: Calgary Police, Edmonton Police, Lethbridge Police, Medicine Hat Police, and RCMP detachments in Barrhead, Beaverlodge, Blackfalds, Cochrane, Edson, Fort MacLeod, Grande Prairie, Onoway, Okotoks, Slave Lake, Stettler, and Wood Buffalo.

Anyone with information about these investigations, or any child exploitation offence is encouraged to contact local police or cybertip.ca.

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Alberta

Ontario, Alberta follow Manitoba, B.C. in giving AstraZeneca vaccine to 40 and up

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Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Starting today, those aged 40 and over in Ontario and Alberta can get the shot.

Previously, the minimum age to receive AstraZeneca was 55 because of a slightly elevated risk of an extremely rare blood clot disorder.

British Columbia and Manitoba also dropped the age requirement to 40, starting yesterday.

Quebec says it will be lowering the age for AstraZeneca, although it’s not clear what that age will be.

Quebec’s director of public health says a recommendation from the province’s immunization committee is expected soon and could be put into effect this week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2021. 

The Canadian Press

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