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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.


    • $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



Positive COVID-19 tests at world men's curling championship deemed “false positives”

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CALGARY — The four positive COVID-19 tests that interrupted the men’s world curling championship are considered “false positives” from potentially contaminated samples, according to the World Curling Federation.

The men’s championship concluded late Sunday night with Sweden’s Niklas Edin winning a record fifth world men’s title.

No games were played Saturday because four participants, including one from a playoff team, tested positive for the virus in “exit” tests before leaving Calgary’s curling bubble. 

None had symptoms of the illness.

All have tested negative in multiple re-tests since then, the WCF said Monday in a statement. All tests were conducted via PCR throat swabs.

“According to Alberta Health, PCR testing remains the gold standard for COVID-19 testing,” the WCF said. “Very rarely, there are occurrences through sampling or testing processes when samples may become contaminated and a false positive may result.

“Following an investigation over the weekend, it appears that this may have occurred in this case and follow-up testing was undertaken.”

All athletes and personnel considered close contacts of the four underwent testing Saturday with all results negative. 

Every playoff team member was tested before and after each game Sunday with those results also negative, the WCF said. Hotel staff were also tested Sunday and cleared.

“With the original four positive test results now deemed as false positives, the integrity of the Calgary bubble remains intact,” the WCF declared.

“The change also allows international athletes who were considered close contacts, and who would have had to remain in isolation in Calgary for 14 days, will now be able to depart Calgary.”

The fifth of seven events in Calgary’s curling hub, the Humpty’s Champions Cup, gets underway Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Pulling the plug: Edmonton Folk Music Festival cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

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EDMONTON — Despite Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s hope that the COVID-19 vaccine will allow summer events like the Calgary Stampede to go ahead, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival has been cancelled

The festival says in a statement that without full vaccination, people won’t be entirely safe from the spread of COVID-19. 

It says that with virus variants and an uncertain vaccine rollout, the impossibility of social distancing at the outdoor festival could lead to community spread.

Kenney has said that two-thirds of the population should have a vaccine shot by the end of June and things should begin to feel back-to-normal.

He says the Stampede, which is held in early July, along with sporting events and other festivals will be possible.

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival says it will continue to offer online content and, if small gatherings are permitted, it hopes to add some community engagement.

“With so many variables at play, the complexity of planning and delivering a festival of our size makes it impossible to move forward in our usual manner,” the statement said Monday.

“As profoundly disappointing as this news is, we believe this is the only safe way forward. The safety of our patrons, volunteers, and artists was of paramount importance in coming to this conclusion.”

The annual four-day festival in the city’s Gallagher Park usually attracts thousands of music fans and boasts approximately 2,700 volunteers.

Alberta introduced new health rules last week, closing restaurants to in-person dining and further reducing customer capacity at retail stores in response to rising COVID-19 numbers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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