Connect with us

Alberta

Alberta’s projected surplus balloons: Mid-year budget update

Published

8 minute read

Mid-year update: Keeping Alberta’s finances on track

Alberta’s government continues to manage the province’s finances responsibly with the future in mind.

Alberta continues to lead the nation in economic growth and is forecasting a surplus of $5.5 billion in 2023-24, an increase of $3.2 billion from Budget 2023. The province’s fiscal outlook continued to improve in the second quarter of 2023-24, boosted by strong bitumen royalties and higher income tax revenues.

However, volatile oil prices, continued inflation challenges and uncertainty due to slowing global growth could still affect the province’s finances going forward. Debt servicing costs will be higher than previous years due to higher interest rates, reinforcing the importance of the government’s commitment to balance the budget.

“Alberta continues to stand out as a leader when it comes to fiscal stability and economic resilience in the midst of so much global uncertainty. Our second-quarter fiscal update is another positive report, showing strength in Alberta’s finances and economy and positioning us for future growth and prosperity.”

Nate Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

The government continues to spend responsibly, maintaining its commitment to keep funds in the province’s contingency for disasters and emergencies. The government’s new fiscal framework requires the government to use at least half of available surplus cash to pay down debt, freeing up money that can support the needs of Albertans for generations. The government continues to reduce the province’s debt burden and will pay down a forecasted $3.2 billion in debt this fiscal year.

Alberta’s government is turning its focus to developing next year’s budget, so it supports Albertans’ needs and the province’s economic growth while maintaining the government’s commitment to responsible spending within the fiscal framework. Budget 2024 consultations are open and Albertans are encouraged to share their feedback to help set the province’s financial priorities.

Revenue

  • Revenue for 2023-24 is forecast at $74.3 billion, a $3.7-billion increase from Budget 2023. The increase is due to increases across different revenue streams. In addition, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil is forecast to average US$79 per barrel over the course of the fiscal year, in line with the Budget 2023 forecast.
    • Personal and corporate income tax revenue is forecast at $21.8 billion, $1.8 billion higher than at budget.
    • Bitumen royalties are forecast at $14.4 billion, an increase of $1.8 billion from budget.
    • Overall resource revenue is forecast at $19.7 billion, $1.3 billion higher than the budget forecast.
  • Beginning in 2024, Alberta’s government will continue to offer fuel tax relief when oil prices are high, even as the province transitions back to the original fuel tax relief program, which is based on average quarterly oil prices.
    • Albertans will save some or all of the provincial fuel tax on gasoline and diesel when oil prices are $80 per barrel or higher during each quarter’s review period.
    • Although oil prices have been below $80 in recent weeks, Albertans will continue to save at least four cents per litre on the provincial fuel tax in the first three months of 2024 as the tax is phased back in.
    • The government’s fuel tax relief efforts, which include the pause to the end of 2023 and additional savings over the first three months of 2024, are forecast to reduce other tax revenue by $524 million in 2023-24.

Expense

  • Expense for 2023-24 is forecast at $68.8 billion, a $481-million increase from Budget 2023.
  • Capital grants are up marginally from Budget 2023, but down from the first-quarter forecast, mainly due to funding schedules for Calgary and Edmonton LRT projects.
  • Debt servicing costs are forecast to increase $309 million from budget, a reflection of ongoing high interest rates and inflation.
  • Total expense has increased by $1.9 billion, $0.5 billion is directly offset by revenue and $1.4 billion is absorbed by the $1.5-billion contingency.
  • In total, $123 million of the 2023-24 contingency remains unallocated.
  • $1.2 billion in disaster and emergency costs are forecast for the current fiscal year.
    • $750 million for fighting wildfires in the province
    • $165 million for AgriRecovery to support livestock producers affected by dry conditions
    • $253 million to provide financial assistance to communities for uninsurable damage from spring wildfires and summer flooding
    • $61 million for evacuation and other support
  • The operating expense forecast has increased by $319 million, including an additional:
    • $301 million for Health
    • $48 million for Advanced Education
    • $48 million for Energy and Minerals
    • $33 million for Mental Health and Addiction
    • $30 million for Education
    • $14 million for Indigenous Relations
    • Offset by decreases of $187 million for lower-than-expected program take-up of affordability payments and re-profiling of TIER spending to 2024-25.

Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund

  • The Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund’s market value on Sept. 30, 2023, was $21.4 billion, up from the $21.2 billion reported at March 31, 2023.
    • The Heritage Fund returned 0.9 per cent over the first six months of 2023-24.
    • Over the five-year period ending on Sept. 30, 2023, the Heritage Fund returned 5.9 per cent, which is 0.5 per cent above the return of its passive benchmark. While the Heritage Fund is outperforming its benchmark return, it is below the long-term real return target of 6.9 per cent, again a result of interest pressures.
    • The Heritage Fund generated net investment income of $1 billion in the first half of the fiscal year.

Economic outlook

  • Alberta’s economy continues to be resilient, with continued growth projected over the three-year forecast.
  • Alberta’s real gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow 2.8 per cent in 2023, in line with the Budget 2023 forecast.
  • Despite interest rate increases, high prices and slower global economic growth, Alberta’s economy is forecast to keep expanding. The pace of growth, however, will be slower compared with the last two years when the province was recovering from the pandemic.

Alberta Fund

  • The amount of surplus cash available for debt repayment and the Alberta Fund is determined after a number of required cash adjustments have been made. For 2023-24, this includes $5.1 billion from the 2022-23 final results to start the year.
  • The Alberta Fund contribution for 2023-24 is forecast at $1.6 billion.
  • Money in the Alberta Fund can be used toward additional debt repayment, the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, or one-time initiatives that do not permanently increase government spending.

Related information

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

Follow Author

Alberta

‘Liberal’ parents of gender-confused kids among supporters of Alberta’s proposed ‘transitioning’ ban

Published on

From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

Parents whose kids have undergone medical or surgical ‘transitioning’ say that Premier Danielle Smith’s policies will spare other families from ‘the heartache their families have been through.’

As highlighted in a recent Epoch Times report, parents whose kids have undergone medical or surgical “transitioning” say that Smith’s new policies will only benefit families in general and spare them from “the heartache their families have been through.”

On January 31, Smith announced what is perhaps the strongest pro-family legislation in Canada, protecting kids from life-altering so-called “top and bottom” surgeries as well as other extreme forms of transgender ideology.

According to Crystal, a mom from Calgary, her son Noah, when he was in Grade 9, had a friend who made a “transition” from a female to a male. Her son had noted he was what is called a “trans ally,” but suddenly he began to identify himself as “she/they.”

“Fast forward to the early part of Grade 10, and out of the blue I get a text from my kid while he’s at school saying, ‘I’m now identifying as she/they,’” said Crystal, who said she is “quite a liberal parent.”

However, despite being a “liberal,” she admitted that she did not have an easy time with her son changing names and using different pronouns.

“Out of the blue is this vitriol towards me when I didn’t get it right,” she said, adding she then just decided to call her son “kiddo.”

However, Noah then told her he wanted hormones. Crystal and her ex-husband had thought Noah was just going through a phase, as he was “well known” for this.

“He would try on different so-called ‘identities’ like a jock, a nerd, a rapper,” Crystal said, and even as he was supposed to be “transitioning,” took on a look of a “goth.”

Alberta’s forthcoming regulations include a ban on so-called “top” surgeries (mastectomies, breast constructions) as well as “bottom” surgeries (vaginoplasties, phalloplasties) for children ages 17 and under. Puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are also restricted to those age 16 and older but only with parental consent.

Smith said her United Conservative Party (UCP) government will soon introduce legislation that, if passed, would bar doctors in the province from medically or surgically “transitioning” children under age 17. The new legislation will also mandate parental consent for pronoun changes in school. Coming in the fall will be additional legislation that bans men who claim to be women from competing in women’s sports.

Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) praised Smith’s decision to introduce legislation to ban doctors from chemically or surgically “transitioning” children, calling it a “political miracle.”

Crystal’s line in the sand for her son: ‘No medical affirmation’

When the Alberta government was researching its new policy regarding banning surgically or chemically “transitioning” children, Crystal said she was one of the parents they talked with to get feedback.

She admits at the time she was not a fan of Smith or her party, but now says she is “doing this right.”

Crystal noted that if this policy had been in place only three years ago, all the heartache could have been avoided.

“This is blowing up relationships,” she said.

When speaking to her son, Crystal noted that her “line in the sand will always be [that] there will be no medical affirmation.”

As a result, she then said she was “hit with the vitriol.”

Due to Crystal having had to deal with her son wanting to become something other than his birth sex, she contacted parents with similar situations via a group called Our Duty.

After connecting with parents on the site, Crystal noted how her son Noah “checks a lot of the boxes” with other kids who say they are transgender.

She said that kids in these situations all use the same “script” of saying they are going to “kill myself if I don’t get the proper medical intervention if you don’t use the pronouns.”

“It’s the constant threat of suicide,” she noted.

Complaint filed against doctor who gave hormones

Despite Crystal trying to delay her son wanting to undergo a “medical transitioning,” she did book an appointment with a doctor to talk about hormones.

However, after being referred to a clinic to further talk about her son’s matter, she said the personnel were “aggressive.”

Crystal noted how the clinic was constantly emailing and calling her to make an appointment for her son, and she was told she had to have all the paperwork and blood work done before the meeting.

She said that this made “no sense,” so she told the clinic that she was “not signing a consent form.”

When she went to the appointment with her son, she was taken to a room with a doctor alone and was told that this appointment was not for her but for Noah.

The doctor only spoke with her for 10 minutes and was already willing to prescribe her son hormones. At this point, she confronted the doctor for not doing a thorough psychological assessment or any other screening. The doctor mentioned to her that while she was able to oppose the treatment, she could end up in the courts and that he would testify on Noah’s behalf. He then said he had always won in similar situations with other parents.

Crystal filed a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta against the doctor regarding her experience with her son, but for the time being, is not making public his name.

Her son later went to that doctor alone and started to take hormones. It was at this point she realized she had no control over the situation.

Crystal said that in the past her family doctor along with a child psychologist did not affirm Noah’s gender dysphoria. She noted that it was only the “gender experts,” all of whom had “zero history with my child,” who suggested this.

“They did not solicit the qualified professionals we had in place,” she said.

As for Noah, who is now in grade 12, the doctor who had the complaint against him told Noah that it was his mom who did this, which made her son mad.

“I will never forgive you for this,” he told her.

He then ran away from home and told people that he was not “safe” at home with his mom.

“I just want to be your mom,” she had mentioned to him.

While many so-called “gender-affirming care” workers claim that the effects of puberty blockers can be reversed, according to Dr. Jane Anderson, vice president of the American College of Pediatricians, as per The Epoch Timesthe hormones can severely impact brain development.

Puberty blockers can cause heightened depression, severe mood swings, and weight gain.

Continue Reading

Alberta

Edmonton triples venture capital investment in 2023

Published on

Alberta’s tech sector continues its strong momentum, with Edmonton seeing its strongest growth ever, proof Alberta remains a hot tech market.

As global and national investment have declined, Alberta has remained a strong tech market and is showing continued leadership, as shown by Pitchbook ranking Calgary as the 12th fastest-growing tech ecosystem in the world and LinkedIn ranking Calgary as one of the best places to hire and recruit tech workers.

At the end of 2023, Alberta’s five-year growth rate for venture capital dollars invested reached an impressive 48.5 per cent, more than triple Canada’s compounded average growth rate of 13 per cent, according to the 2023 Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association fourth-quarter report.

The province’s growth rate means Alberta finished 2023 with $707 million invested over 86 deals, in line with Alberta’s 2022 record-breaking year. In contrast, Canada ended the year with a 31 per cent decline in investments. Over the past five years, Alberta technology companies have secured more than $2.7 billion in venture capital funding across 350 deals, creating thousands of jobs for Albertans.

“While Canada as a whole saw massive declines, Alberta has held steady. We are a major venture capital player in Canada, as technology drives growth across all sectors.”

Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation

Alberta’s two largest cities continued to attract investment dollars in 2023, with Calgary and Edmonton coming in fourth and fifth respectively for number of deals, with $501 million invested in 64 deals in Calgary and $188 million invested in 21 deals in Edmonton. Edmonton saw a 324 per cent increase from $58 million in 2022 to $188 million in 2023. In total, Alberta captured 10.3 per cent of dollars invested in 2023 and 13 per cent of venture capital deals in Canada.

“Edmonton’s tripling of venture capital investment in 2023 underscores our city’s position as a dynamic tech capital within Alberta’s thriving innovation ecosystem, reaffirming our role as a powerhouse driving technological advancement and economic prosperity across diverse sectors. It is the local innovators’ relentless pursuit of solutions to real-world problems, with the continuing support of the Government of Alberta, which not only attracts significant investment but also propels our city to the forefront of Alberta’s tech revolution and fosters job creation for our community.”

Launa Aspeslet, interim chief executive officer, Edmonton Unlimited

“At Platform Calgary we are working with our partners to continue this momentum by linking up high potential tech startups with the investors that can help them take their businesses to the next level. The evidence is clear, Alberta is emerging as one of the most exciting and resilient tech ecosystems in the world. Together with our growing tech community, we can secure Alberta’s position as the best place in the world for anyone to launch and grow a tech business.”

Terry Rock, president and chief executive officer, Platform Calgary 

Alberta remains a growing market for the technology and innovation sector, and Alberta’s government celebrates its steady contribution to the Alberta economy, including in the fourth quarter of 2023. The end of last year saw venture capital investments in the province increase by 35 per cent for dollars invested and 19 per cent for deals closed compared with the third quarter. There were 25 deals closed valued at a combined $173 million in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Related information

Continue Reading

Trending

X