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Alberta

Alberta Budget 2024 – Health, Education, and Affordability announcements

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Putting Albertans and Alberta families first

Budget 2024 is a responsible plan that puts Albertans and their families first by investing in strong health care, a modern education system and supports to keep life affordable.

Alberta’s government will ensure that the services and supports Alberta families rely on will be there for them. Budget 2024 continues to prioritize the delivery of high-quality, reliable health services across the province, with funding to continue planning the stand-alone Stollery Children’s Hospital, attract family physicians to rural areas and add more mental health and addiction facilities.

“With Budget 2024, we are ensuring that our province remains the best place to live and raise a family. We are investing in programs and services like new school builds, improved access to doctors and affordable housing to help Albertans stay healthy and build a successful future for themselves and their families.”

Nate Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

 

Budget 2024 highlights – Health care

  • $475 million to modernize Alberta’s primary health care system, including:
    • $200 million over two years to improve access to family physicians.
    • $10 million for primary health care initiatives in Indigenous communities.
    • $15 million to further develop a compensation model for nurse practitioners.
  • $6.6 billion for physician compensation and development, up from $6.1 billion in Budget 2023.
  • $1 billion over three years to transform the continuing care system to shift care to the community, enhance workforce capacity, increase choice and innovation, and improve the quality of care within the continuing care sector.
  • $287 million over four years, part of a bilateral agreement with the federal government, for new mental health and addiction facilities, as well as for targeted supports for children and youth, adults and Indigenous communities.
  • $62.4 million over three years to create two rural health professional training centres and expand physician education.
  • $20 million over the next three years, including $17 million in new funding, to continue planning for a stand-alone Stollery Children’s Hospital.
  • $35 million in capital funding over the next three years to purchase new emergency medical services vehicles and ambulances, upgrade the existing fleet and acquire additional equipment.
  • $10 million over the next three years to create additional mental health professional spaces in post-secondary schools.
  • $1.55-billion total expense to continue building the Alberta Recovery Model and ensure anyone suffering from the deadly disease of addiction or facing mental health challenges has an opportunity to pursue recovery.

“In Budget 2024, Alberta’s government is continuing to prioritize the delivery of high-quality, reliable health services across the province. This year’s record investment of $26.2 billion in health care will help us continue toward our goals of improving primary health care, adding capacity, reducing wait times, growing the workforce and advancing the Healthcare Action Plan.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health

“Budget 2024 gives hope to those suffering from the deadly disease of addiction or facing mental health challenges. We are proud to invest in the Alberta Recovery Model and provide life-saving addiction treatment and care for those in need.”

Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

Budget 2024 invests in a bright future for Alberta students with new and modernized schools, learning supports for students of all abilities and post-secondary programs to help build a skilled workforce.

Budget 2024 highlights – K-12 and post-secondary education

  • $1.9 billion in capital funding over the next three years for planning, design or construction of new and modernized school projects across the province. This includes $681 million in new funding for 43 priority projects that will create 35,000 new or modernized student spaces.
    • A total of 98 school projects are in various stages of the planning, design and construction process in 2024.
  • $842 million in new operating funding over the next three years to further support enrolment growth, bringing additional enrolment-based funding to more than $1.2 billion over the next three years to enable schools to hire more than 3,100 education staff.
  • More than $1.5-billion operating expense funding for educational learning supports for vulnerable students, children with specialized learning needs and other students requiring additional supports.
  • $26 million over the next three years in additional funding for Program Unit Funding (PUF). PUF will total $209 million in the 2024-25 fiscal year.
  • $103 million in capital funding over three years to increase modular classroom spaces to address the most urgent needs for additional student spaces across the province.
  • $55 million in capital funding starting in 2025-26 for the University of Calgary’s multidisciplinary hub to add 1,000 spaces in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
  • $63 million in capital funding over the next three years for Olds College to renovate and expand student spaces in the WJ Elliot Building.
  • $43 million in capital funding over the next three years for NAIT’s trades and technology learning facility.
  • $13 million in capital funding over the next three years for Red Deer Polytechnic to create a new space to help businesses conduct applied research.

“The Alberta Advantage is back and booming, and people from across Canada and around the world are once again flocking to our incredible province. This of course puts added pressures on our schools, and our government is ready to help. Budget 2024 will support 43 new school projects to create and update 35,000 more student spaces. We’re providing $842 million in new funding to help our school boards hire more than 3,000 teachers and educational staff over the next three years. We will also boost funding to vulnerable students by increasing funding to the PUF program by $26 million.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Education

 

“Demand for skilled trades workers and graduates from STEM programs is projected to increase as our economy continues to grow and diversify. That’s why Alberta’s government is making targeted investments in post-secondary institutions to create more opportunities for students in high-demand fields of study.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education

Although inflation is expected to ease this year, many families are still struggling with high grocery and utility costs. Budget 2024 helps keep life affordable and supports Albertans most affected by inflation.

Budget 2024 highlights – Affordability

  • $717 million in capital grants to give Albertans and families access to more affordable housing, in line with Stronger Foundations – Alberta’s 10-year strategy designed to increase affordable housing supply and supports for Albertans.
  • $355 million for the Alberta Child and Family Benefit to provide lower-income families with benefits, an increase of $31 million from last fiscal year.
  • $980 million in savings for Albertans in 2024-25 because of indexation of personal income taxes.
    • Budget 2024 formalizes the schedule to phase in a new personal income tax bracket on the first $60,000 of income, which would save individual taxpayers up to $760 per year once the tax cut is fully implemented.
  • 25 per cent discount for seniors on personal registry services and medical driving tests, scheduled to come into effect in 2024-25.
  • $38-million increase to operational funding for the Seniors Lodge, Social Housing and Specialized Housing and Rental Assistance programs in 2024-25.
  • $22 million increased operating expense over the next three years to index foster, kinship and other caregiver rates, which will support stronger foundations for children in care and provide them with the care and protection they need for a brighter and secure future.

“With each strategic investment in affordable housing, reducing homelessness and supporting our seniors and people with disabilities, we are strengthening our communities and empowering vulnerable Albertans to thrive and succeed.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services

 

“Our government is helping make life easier and more affordable for Alberta families. By helping foster caregivers increase stability for children and youth in care, and ensuring survivors of domestic and sexual violence have the resources they need to heal, we’re enabling connections that will lead to a brighter future for Alberta families.”

Searle Turton, Minister of Children and Family Services

Budget 2024 is a responsible plan to strengthen health care and education, build safe and supportive communities, manage the province’s resources wisely and promote job creation to continue to build Alberta’s competitive advantage.

Alberta

Provinces should be cautious about cost-sharing agreements with Ottawa

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From the Fraser Institute

By Tegan Hill and Jake Fuss

According to Premier Danielle Smith, Alberta will withdraw from the federal government’s dental care plan by 2026 mainly because the plan would duplicate coverage already provided to many Albertans (although she plans to negotiate unconditional funding in lieu of being in the program). Indeed, all provinces should be wary of entering into such agreements as history has shown that Ottawa can reduce or eliminate funding at any time, leaving the provinces holding the bag.

In the 1990s, for instance, the federal government reduced health and social transfers to the provinces amid a fiscal crisis fuelled by decades of unrestrained spending and persistent deficits (and worsened by high interest rates). Gross federal debt increased from $38.9 billion in 1970/71 to $615.9 billion in 1993/94, at which point debt interest costs consumed roughly $1 in every $3 of federal government revenue.

In response to this debt crisis, the Chrétien Liberal government reduced spending across nearly all federal departments and programs. Over a three-year period to 1996/97, health and social transfers to the provinces were 51 per cent ($41.0 billion) less than what the provinces expected based on previous transfers. In other words, the provinces suddenly got a lot less money from Ottawa than they anticipated.

This should serve as a warning for the provinces who may find themselves on the hook for Ottawa’s big spending today. In the case of dental care, an area of provincial jurisdiction, the Trudeau government has earmarked $4.4 billion  annually for the provinces on an ongoing basis. However, any change in federal priorities or federal finances could swing the financial burden from Ottawa to the provinces to maintain the program.

The current state of federal finances only heightens this risk to the provinces. The federal government has run uninterrupted budget deficits since 2007/08, with total federal debt climbing from $707.3 billion in 2007/08 to a projected $2.1 trillion in 2024/25. The current government—or perhaps a future reform-minded government focused on balancing the budget—could reduce transfers to the provinces.

The Trudeau government has committed to significant new funding in areas of provincial jurisdiction, but provincial policymakers would do well to understand the risks of entering into such agreements. Ottawa can unilaterally reduce or eliminate funding at any point, leaving provinces to either assume the unexpected financial burden through higher taxes or additional borrowing, or curtail the programs.

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Alberta

Just in time for Canada Day weekend! Crescent Falls ready to be enjoyed again

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The new staircase structure and viewing platform are among many upgrades that visitors can look forward to at the reopening Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area. (Credit: Alberta Parks).

The popular Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area reopens following a significant capital investment to improve visitor safety and experiences.

Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area is ready to welcome visitors back to enjoy one of the most remarkable, accessible waterfall viewing opportunities in Alberta. The upgrades at Crescent Falls will help improve the park’s visitor experience. Guests can expect expanded parking, improved access roads, trails and day use areas, new and improved viewing areas to take in the falls and upgraded safety measures, including signage and wayfinding.

The Provincial Recreation Area (PRA) is reopening over the July long weekend after being closed since 2023. Visitors will notice increased public safety upgrades through additions such as new parking lots, a new stair structure to access the lower falls, new pedestrian trails, a new vehicle bridge to access the camping area and a viewing platform to enjoy the Crescent Falls.

“We are thrilled to welcome visitors back to Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area in time for the Canada Day long weekend. These additions will help visitors to safely access and enjoy the area’s natural beauty. Parks are for people and Alberta’s government will continue to invest in high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry and Parks

“Today marks a significant milestone for our community as we reopen the Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area following extensive upgrades. Our province is well known for its incredible natural beauty, and these improvements will make our backcountry more accessible and ensure that Albertans and those visiting our great province can continue to explore our stunning landscapes for years to come.”

Jason Nixon, MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre
This project is part of an investment of more than $12 million to upgrade 13 sites along the David Thompson Corridor. The improvements at Crescent Falls will provide improved safety measures and better visitor access to and from popular tourist destinations in the area. Partners from Clearwater County, Rocky Mountain House and other organizations were critical in helping to move the upgrades forward. Clearwater County and its officials worked with Alberta Parks staff to advise on the upgrades needed around the area.

Alberta’s government is committed to reconciliation and acknowledges the significance of the land around Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area to the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. The completed upgrades reflect an ongoing commitment to creating more outdoor recreation opportunities while protecting the land’s natural and cultural values so it can be enjoyed by current and future generations.

“The Alberta Government’s reopening of Crescent Falls is a remarkable achievement for our region. This project not only enhances recreational opportunities, natural beauty and accessibility in our area but also means safer, more enjoyable visits for our citizens and visitors alike.”

Michelle Swanson, councillor, Clearwater County

“The Town of Rocky Mountain House is where adventure begins, and we are thrilled that Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area has reopened to the public in time for the summer adventure season. This is a wonderful day trip destination for visitors and residents alike setting out from Rocky Mountain House. The provincial investment has only improved its accessibility and safety, making it a must-see destination if you are in the area.”

Dale Shippelt, incoming deputy mayor, Rocky Mountain House

“Westward Bound Campgrounds is the proud facility operator of the Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area and we are very excited to see our campers and visitors return to its beauty. These upgrades will have a significant impact on enhancing guest satisfaction levels, providing unique and memorable camper and visitor experiences while providing a safe environment to enjoy spectacular scenery.”

Lonnie and Edena Earl, Westward Bound Campgrounds

This work is part of an ongoing commitment to creating more outdoor recreation and camping opportunities, building trails and facilities and ensuring Alberta’s provincial parks can be enjoyed by all Albertans.

Quick facts

  • The upgrades at Crescent Falls PRA include the following improvements:
    • Enlarging the existing parking area
    • Developing a new parking area for large RV vehicles
    • Upgrading the access roads down to the lower area
    • Installing a new pedestrian trail to the lower day use area
    • Installing a new vehicle crossing from the day use to the camping site
    • Upgrading and expanding the day use areas
    • Increasing signage
    • Installing additional toilets and bear-proof garbage bins
    • Developing a new stair structure to access the lower falls areas with a viewing platform
  • Enhancing safety features throughout the PRA. The upgrades were part of a significant capital investment of $12.3 million by Alberta’s government to address safety and experience opportunities in 13 key provincial recreation sites along the David Thompson Corridor. Along with Crescent Falls PRA, other sites that were upgraded include:
    • Bighorn Dam Recreation Area
    • The following 11 Public lands and parks sites:
    • Coliseum
    • Allstone
    • Abraham Slabs
    • Hoo Doo Creek
    • Coral Creek
    • Pinto Creek
    • Preachers Point
    • Cavalcade
    • Kinglet/Tuff Puff
    • Wildhorse
    • Owen Creek
  • Crescent Falls PRA is located 22 km west of Nordegg on Highway 11 and 6 km north on a gravel access road. Crescent Falls PRA has a first-come, first-served campground with 12 tent-only sites and 22 RV sites. The day use area includes multiple viewing platforms of the upper and lower falls and picnic tables with views of the river. Access to the lower day use area is available on a 0.8 km trail from the main parking area or, alternatively, from the Bighorn Canyon lookout via a 3 km trail. The lower day use area also has accessible-only parking stalls adjacent to the viewing platforms with an accessible vault toilet and picnic areas.

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