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Alberta

Premier Danielle Smith’s first budget adds health and education spending and forecasts a $2.4 billion surplus

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Budget 2023 forecasts a surplus of $2.4 billion in 2023-24 and reflects the government decisions to invest in Alberta’s future and provide security for Alberta families and communities.

“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.”

Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

Growing jobs and the economy

Budget 2023 advances the province’s already successful Alberta at Work initiative, investing a further $176 million in 2025-26 to help Albertans build their skills and find jobs, and assisting employers in their search for workers in existing and emerging sectors.

A $111-million increase over three years will add seats to expand enrolment in areas with the highest student demand, including non-trade construction, energy, technology and business. Alberta’s government is committed to removing barriers in order to attract highliy skilled professionals and job-creating entrepreneurs to Alberta.

Investments in aviation and aerospace, agri-food manufacturing and $24.5 million this fiscal year to the Alberta Technology and Innovation Strategy will enhance emerging and innovative technologies, drive economic diversification and attract even more venture capital investments to build on successive record-breaking years. A $54-million per year increase in funding for the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program starting in 2025-26 will support Air Products’ clean hydrogen facility – and continue to make Alberta a global leader in petrochemical production, bring long-term investments and create thousands of construction jobs.

Transforming health care to meet Albertans’ needs

Alberta’s government is setting a new record for spending in health care this year by committing an additional $965 million in operating expense in 2023-24 for the Ministry of Health to continue to build a stronger health-care system for Albertans. This funding will ensure the government can take the urgent action needed to improve ambulance response times, decrease emergency room wait times, reduce wait times for surgeries and attract more front-line health workers to deliver the care patients expect and deserve.

Budget 2023 includes $158 million this year to attract, recruit and train more doctors and nurses to work across the province, with a focus on family physicians for rural areas. Alberta’s primary health-care system is being strengthened and modernized with a record $2 billion over three years. Another $196 million over three years will strengthen emergency medical services and $3.1 billion over three years will modernize and expand health facilities across Alberta, including the Red Deer Regional Hospital and expanding capacity for operating rooms in 15 communities to complete more of the surgeries Albertans are waiting for. An additional $529 million in capital maintenance and renewal funding will be used to keep facilities operational and a further $732 million in self-financed investment will add to health infrastructure.

Supporting Albertans, students and families

With $2.3 billion in affordability measures in 2023-24, $1.5 billion in 2024-25 and another $1.8 billion in 2025-26, Alberta’s government is keeping more money in the pockets of Albertans and continues to provide a helping hand to those in need. New relief measures will save post-secondary students about $18 million each year with lower interest rates for student loans.  Adoptive families will have access to more subsidies and tax breaks to make adoption more feasible. Workers in the social services sector will see their wages increased by 10 per cent, so they can continue to provide compassionate services to people with complex needs, those experiencing homelessness or family violence. Albertans will also receive a larger tax credit when they donate to their favourite charities to lend a helping hand.

An increase of $1.8 billion for education will help Alberta’s young people succeed and thrive in smaller classes. This increase will support the hiring of up to 3,000 education staff, including teachers, educational assistants, bus drivers and school support staff to give students the focused time and attention they need to succeed in their studies.

The government is also investing $59.3 million in 2023-24 to create thousands more licensed child-care spaces as part of opening a total of 68,700 new spaces by the end of March 2023, increasing access and choice so parents can go to school, work and participate in the economy. Affordability grants to child-care operators and subsidies for parents will further lower the cost of child care, with the Alberta federal-provincial child-care agreement already reducing fees by an average of 50 per cent in 2022 for young children.

Keeping Albertans and communities safe

All Albertans, families and children have the right to safety and security in their homes, at school, at work and in their communities, no matter where they live.

Budget 2023 keeps communities safe by increasing collaboration between first responders and community partners and increasing access for vulnerable populations to recovery-oriented mental health and addiction supports and services.

  • $12.5 million in 2023-24 will support the expansion of therapeutic living units within provincial correctional facilities to help inmates access recovery-oriented treatment and recovery programs. This is a joint investment between Mental Health and Addiction and Public Safety and Emergency Services.
  • $65 million over the next three years will strengthen First Nations policing to address the unique needs of their communities and members. This will secure new policing positions and the creation of another First Nations police service in addition to the Lakeshore Regional Police Service, the Blood Tribe Police Service and Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service.
  • $20 million over three years is committed to combat human trafficking and ensure necessary resources are provided to survivors and victims.

The province will review options for delivering policing services with the objective of improving the safety and security of Albertans and their property.

Committing to responsible fiscal management

Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s future by staying true to responsible fiscal management and spending hard-earned tax dollars wisely to support Albertans today and tomorrow.

A new fiscal framework would require all future Alberta governments to balance their annual budgets, with certain exceptions, and use any surpluses to first pay down debt and save for the future before investing in one-time initiatives.

Taxpayer-supported debt is being reduced by $14.8 billion between 2021-22 and 2023-24, and the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund is growing by $5.7 billion between 2021-22 and 2025-26. This will bring taxpayer-supported debt to $78.3 billion at the end of 2023-24, and saves Albertans estimated $260 million in this fiscal year and $551 million in 2023-24.

Mandating balanced budgets and tying operating expense increases to population growth and inflation would help control spending to prevent what could be temporarily high resource revenue being used to increase spending in an unsustainable way. Spending decisions instead would be focused on not only meeting the needs and priorities of Albertans but also on continuing to drive change, innovation and improvement of vital services and programs.

Revenue

  • In 2023-24, total revenue is estimated to be $70.7 billion, which is $5.4 billion lower than the forecast for 2022-23. Commodity prices are expected to soften due to fears of a looming global recession, while investment income is expected to recover well after dropping in 2022-23.
    • Revenue is expected to remain above $70 billion in following years. The revenue forecast for 2024-25 is $71.7 billion and for 2025-26 is $72.6 billion.
    • In 2023-24, corporate income tax revenue is estimated at $5.9 billion, down 7.8 per cent from 2022-23, largely due to declining commodity prices.
    • Non-renewable resource revenue is estimated to be $18.4 billion in 2023-24, down from the highest-ever resource revenue of $27.5 billion forecast in 2022-23.

Expense

  • Total expense in 2023-24 is $68.3 billion, which is $2.6 billion more than the forecast for 2022-23.
    • Total expense is expected to be $69.7 billion in 2024-25 and $71.2 billion in 2025-26.

Surplus

  • A surplus of $2.4 billion is forecast for 2023-24 compared with $10.4 billion in 2022-23.
    • Surpluses of $2 billion and $1.4 billion are forecast for 2024-25 and 2025-26, respectively.

Economic outlook

  • In 2022, real gross domestic product (GDP) rose by an estimated 4.8 per cent, which is lower than the budget forecast of 5.4 per cent. The softer growth reflects the impact of higher interest rates and prices on consumer spending and residential investment. Even so, real GDP fully recovered from the COVID-19 downturn and surpassed the 2014 peak in 2022.
  • In 2023, real GDP is expected to grow by 2.8 per cent, up slightly from the 2.7 per cent growth forecast at mid-year.

Energy and economic assumptions, 2023-24

  • West Texas Intermediate oil (USD/bbl)                                  $79.00
  • Western Canadian Select @ Hardisty (CND/bbl)                 $78.00
  • Light-heavy differential (USD/bbl)                                          $19.50
  • Natural gas (CND/GJ)                                                               $4.10
  • Convention crude production (000s barrels/day)                 497
  • Raw bitumen production (000s barrels/day)                          3,345
  • Canadian dollar exchange rate (USD/CDN)                         $76.20
  • Interest rate (10-year Canada bonds, per cent)                   3.60

Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s bright future by transforming the health-care system to meet people’s needs, supporting Albertans with the high cost of living, keeping our communities safe and driving the economy with more jobs, quality education and continued diversification.

 

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Alberta backs Saskatchewan in court battle defending parental consent for ‘pronoun changes’

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

‘Saskatchewan and Alberta agree that the key figures in children’s lives are their parents, and our provinces are both committed to supporting families and children so that they can work through unique needs together,’ the provinces wrote in a joint letter in defense of parental rights.

Alberta has announced its support of Saskatchewan’s policy requiring parental consent for children to go by different pronouns at school amid a lawsuit against the policy by an LGBT activist group.  

On April 9, Alberta Minister of Justice and Attorney General Mickey Amery and Saskatchewan Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre revealed that Alberta will intervene in Saskatchewan’s Parents’ Bill of Rights case challenging their new pro-family laws.  

“Saskatchewan and Alberta agree that the key figures in children’s lives are their parents, and our provinces are both committed to supporting families and children so that they can work through unique needs together,” the joint statement read.  

“Notifying parents and requiring their consent before a child’s name or pronouns can be changed in schools, and before classroom discussions about gender identity and other sensitive subjects occur, ensures that the parent-child relationship is respected and paramount,” it continued.  

The pronoun policy is just one part of Saskatchewan’s new “Parental Inclusion and Consent Policies,” which also include provisions that ensure parents are allowed to opt their kids out of sex-ed, and that third-party presentations from groups such as Planned Parenthood will be prohibited from taking place.   

After the policies were put forth, LGBT activist group UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity at the University of Regina, represented by Egale Canada, filed a lawsuit to reverse the pro-family laws.  

While a judge has ruled in favor of the LGBT group, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced in response that he will invoke his government’s notwithstanding clause to protect the legislation from the courts.   

The notwithstanding clause, embedded in section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, allows provinces to temporarily override sections of the Charter to protect new laws from being scrapped while higher courts make a determination on the constitutionality of the law.

The case is set to be heard in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. During the case, Saskatchewan will now be supported by Alberta, which has committed to intervene in the appeal. 

“This case has the potential to impact not only parental rights across Canada, but also the application of the Parliamentary Supremacy Clause, which has been an integral piece of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution of Canada since 1982,” it declared. 

Similar to Saskatchewan, Alberta recently introduced its much-anticipated pro-family legislation protecting children and parental rights from the worst results of transgender ideology, including banning doctors from medically ‘transitioning’ children, requiring parental consent for pronoun changes in school, and barring men claiming to be women from women’s sports.   

Recent surveys have shown that Moe is acting in the interest of Saskatchewan parents by introducing legislation protecting school children from LGBT propaganda.   

According to an August 2023 survey, 86 percent of Saskatchewan participants advocated for parental rights, supporting the province’s new approach to the LGBT agenda in schools.

Furthermore, over 40,000 Canadians have pledged their support for Saskatchewan’s fight for parental rights in the classroom, also calling on all other provinces to follow suit.     

Additionally, a Saskatchewan teacher wishing to remain anonymous previously told LifeSiteNews that she feels guilty about keeping secrets from parents and supports the decision to keep parents informed.    

“I fear that we are not supporting students or parents when we keep secrets,” she explained. “We have many students using alternate names, which sometimes changes frequently during the year, and then are asked by parents if we were aware of the changes after the fact. I feel responsible for keeping the secret and I don’t think it’s fair. I think schools are already taking on too many ‘parent roles’ and it’s important that parents play the ‘parent role’ not teachers!”   

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Alberta

Alberta taking back control of federal agreements

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Alberta has introduced legislation requiring provincial entities to obtain approval before entering, amending, extending or renewing agreements with the federal government.

The introduction of the Provincial Priorities Act, 2024 will support Alberta’s government in pushing back against the federal government’s ongoing overreach into areas of provincial jurisdiction. Alberta’s government will ensure federal funding is aligned with provincial priorities, rather than with priorities contrary to the province’s interests. Under the legislation, agreements between the federal government and provincial entities, including municipalities, that have not received provincial approval would be invalid.

As an example, the federal government’s unrelenting and ideological push toward electric buses in Canadian cities including Calgary does not acknowledge mounting evidence of significant problems with their effectiveness during harsh Alberta winters. Alberta’s government believes the funds that Ottawa allocated for unreliable and impractical electric buses would have been better spent on Alberta priorities including strengthening the province’s economic corridors with improved roads and commuter rail, or advancing the province’s hydrogen strategy as an alternate clean-energy source for transportation.

If passed, the legislation would also support Alberta’s government in getting its fair share of funding when it comes to roads, infrastructure, housing and other priorities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in housing. In summer 2023, Alberta received only 2.5 per cent of the total $1.5 billion in federal housing funds, despite having 12 per cent of the country’s population and, by far, the fastest population growth.

The legislation would also work to prevent taxpayer dollars being wasted on duplicative programs like pharmacare and dental care when what the province really needs is envelope funding to expand existing provincial programs in these areas.

“It is not unreasonable for Alberta to demand fairness from Ottawa. They have shown time and again that they will put ideology before practicality, which hurts Alberta families and our economy. We are not going to apologize for continuing to stand up for Albertans so we get the best deal possibleSince Ottawa refuses to acknowledge the negative impacts of its overreach, even after losing battles at the Federal and Supreme Courts, we are putting in additional measures to protect our provincial jurisdiction to ensure our province receives our fair share of federal tax dollars and that those dollars are spent on the priorities of Albertans.”

Danielle Smith, Premier

Currently, the Government Organization Act requires intergovernmental agreements to be approved by the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations for Alberta government departments and some public agencies, such as Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis; Alberta Securities Commission; and Travel Alberta.

However, this requirement does not extend to all Alberta public agencies or broader public sector organizations including municipalities, public post-secondary institutions, school boards and health entities, which has created gaps that could result in federal agreements contradicting provincial priorities and investments. By introducing the Provincial Priorities Act, Alberta’s government is working to close those gaps.

Under the proposed legislation, provincial entities include Alberta public agencies and Crown-controlled organizations, as well as public post-secondary institutions, school boards, regional health authorities, Covenant Health, municipal authorities and housing management bodies.

“For years, the federal government has been imposing its agenda on Alberta taxpayers through direct funding agreements with cities and other provincial organizations. Not only does Alberta not receive its per capita share of federal taxpayer dollars, the money we do receive is often directed towards initiatives that don’t align with Albertan’s priorities. Albertans from all corners of the province expect our federal share of taxes for roads, infrastructure, housing and other priorities – not federal government political pet projects and programs in select communities.”

Ric McIver, Minister of Municipal Affairs

Currently, Quebec is the only other province or territory with similar legislation that requires provincial approval of intergovernmental agreements between a broad scope of public sector organizations and the federal government. During a federal-provincial-territorial meeting in November 2023, Premiers from across the country demanded that the federal government work with them, not around them when it came to agreements with municipalities. Additionally, the Premiers committed to exploring the need for provincial authorization on federal agreements.

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