Alberta Budget 2023: Securing Alberta’s FutureMarch 1st, 2023
The Government of Alberta’s 2023 Budget, entitled Securing Alberta’s Future, will serve as Premier Danielle Smith and her UCP Government’s re-election budget as they are set to head to the polls later this year.
The Government is forecasting a $2.4 billion budget surplus, with surpluses expected for the next two fiscal years as well.
The budget promises billions in new spending and is structured into five key themes:
- Strengthening health care
- Supporting Albertans
- Keeping Albertans and communities safe
- Boosting Alberta’s advantage
- Responsible fiscal management.
The Government argues they are well-positioned to manage potential economic challenges. The Government is forecasting revenues to be $70.7 billion in 2023-24 and for those revenues to remain above $70 billion for the next few years. They expect a looming global recession to soften commodity prices and oil revenues, but investment income is expected to recover after dropping in previous years.
Key Themes and Highlights:
Boosting Alberta’s Advantage:
- The Alberta Government will focus on growing jobs and the economy, which includes targeted investments in skills retraining, and investments in the aviation, aerospace, agri-food, tech, and oil and gas sectors.
- $15 million annually for the Investment and Growth Fund.
- $5 million annually for an ongoing advertising campaign to attract new businesses, individuals and families to the province.
- The Alberta Agri-Processing Investment Tax Credit will provide a non-refundable tax credit of 12% of eligible capital expenditures for corporations investing $10 million or more to build or expand agri-processing facilities in Alberta.
- $2.3 billion over three years for key projects and programs that expand and improve Alberta’s road and bridge network.
- $369 million over three years for Alberta’s Broadband Strategy, supporting businesses in remote areas.
- $100 million over three years in increased funding for the Film and Television Tax Credit.
- A $54 million increase for the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program starting in 2025-26 to support Air Products’ clean hydrogen facility.
- $30 million in 2023-24 for the Red Deer Airport Expansion.
- $23 million over three years for the Aboriginal Business Investment Fund to support community-owned, Indigenous business initiatives – a 50% funding increase.
- $24.5 million in 2023-24 for the Alberta Technology and Innovation Strategy.
- $10 million over three years for rural business supports and economic development capacity building initiatives.
- $10 million over two years for rural tourism investment programming.
- $9 million over three years for the Northern and Regional Economic Development program.
- $4 million increase in 2023-24 to the Alberta Media Fund to help meet the growing demand for small-budget, Alberta-made productions.
- $687,000 in additional funding for the Alberta Enterprise Corporation (AEC) to manage new fund investments and for the Start Alberta platform.
- $176 million in 2025-26 for the Alberta at Work initiative to continue to help address labour shortages in key economic sectors.
- $95 million for Career and Employment Services to ensure Albertans who are looking for work have access to the resources and tools they need to gain new skills and rejoin the workforce.
- $95 million over three years to help address the shortage of health-care workers in the province.
- $59 million over three years to support lab services and program expansion at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
- $111 million more over three years to support targeted post-secondary enrolment expansion in highest demand sectors, such as non-trade construction, energy, technology and business.
- $35 million in 2024-26 for MacEwan University’s new building for the School of Business.
- $6 million over 3 years to help Mount Royal University develop a Bachelor of Aviation program.
- $4.5 million over 3 years for an Air Access Bursary for students in high-demand aviation programs.
- $500,000 in 2023-24 to develop an Aviation Centre of Excellence in partnership with WestJet.
Strengthening Health Care:
- Budget 2023 increase health care operating expenses by $965 million, or 4.1 per cent, to a total of $24.5 billion.
- New funding is focused on decreasing emergency room wait times, improving ambulance response times, reducing wait times for surgeries, and empowering front-line workers to deliver health care.
- $196 million over three years to strengthen EMS by hiring more staff and implementing recommendations made by the provincial advisory committee on EMS services.
- $15 million over three years for new EMS vehicles and to replace or upgrade related equipment.
- $4.2 billion over three years for health care related infrastructure, including $105 million for the Rural Health Facilities Revitalization Program, $105 million for Medical Device Reprocessing upgrades, and $310 million to modernize continuing care facilities.
- $158 million in 2023-2024 to increase the number of health care professionals in Alberta by expanding physician training and recruiting more internationally educated physicians and nurses.
- $250 million over four years under the new Alberta Medical Association agreement, which includes recruitment and retention programs and funding to support family doctors in rural communities.
- $237 million over three years for the Alberta Surgical Initiative Capital Program, including $120 million in new funding to support projects that increase surgical capacity and reduce wait times.
- $243 million over three years through the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System (MAPS) initiative to improve primary health care in Alberta.
- In this section of the budget, the Government builds off their Affordability Action Plan to help Albertans deal with cost-of-living challenges.
- Indexing personal income tax brackets for the 2022 tax year.
- Providing $361 million over three years to index the Alberta Child and Family Benefit to inflation and to provide $100 per month for 6 months for each child under the age of 18 when household income is below $180,000.
- Implementing a 2 per cent cap on post-secondary tuition increases for the 2024-2025 school year and future academic years.
- Making it easier to pay back student loans by reducing interest rates to prime, increasing the threshold for the repayment assistance plan to for $40,000 from $25,000, end extending the grace period for student loans to 12 months from six months.
- Increasing the provincial adoption expense tax credit to $18,210.
- $12 million over three years to support adoptions of children from government care.
- Increasing Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), Income Support, and the Alberta Seniors Benefit by 6 per cent, and indexing them to inflation.
- Providing $600 to AISU, Income Support, and Persons with Developmental Disabilities clients with household incomes below $180,000.
- Providing $20 million over two years to food banks and organizations working to provide food security.
- Investing $22 million over two years for low-income transit pass programs, including $9 million to extend pilot programs in Calgary and Edmonton.
- Increasing funding for affordable housing by $187.5 million.
- $102 million to increase the wages of 20,000 social sector workers.
- The Government is also proposing an increase of $1.8 billion for education, including the hiring of 3,000 new education staff.
- Increased staffing supports for complex classroom by up to 10 per cent.
- $50 million investment to support mental health pilot projects.
- $414 million increase in student transportation funding.
Keeping Albertans and Communities Safe:
- $1.2 billion in funding for Public Safety and Emergency Services, an increase of $100 million.
- $709 million to fund contract policing and the sheriff’s branch, an increase of $84 million.
- An increase of $34 million in 2023-24 for correctional services, which includes expanding therapeutic living units at correctional facilities.
- $20 million over three years to better protect and assist survivors of human trafficking by increasing access to specialized services to help with the healing journey and the establishment of an Alberta Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons and a Centre of Excellence for research and data collection.
- $3 million over three years to expand the Rural Sexual Assault Support project.
- $65 million over three years to strengthen First Nations policing programs.
- $5 million in new funding to support an Indigenous-led response to ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people.
- Investing in new court and justice facilities.
- $15 million over two years to operate the new Chief Provincial Firearms Office.
Responsible Fiscal Management:
- The Budget lays out a new fiscal framework for future governments to follow, by:
- Mandating annual balanced budgets, with exceptions allowed for unexpected disaster costs or sharp declines in revenue.
- Limiting year-over-year increases in operating expenses to population growth and inflation.
- Limiting in-year expense increases contingencies.
- Setting surplus cash policies to allocate at least 50 per cent to repay debts with the remaining going to a new Alberta Fund used for debt repayment, make deposits into the new Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, and fund one-time initiatives which do not permanently increase spending.
- The Government is also introducing legislative changes to the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund.
- 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.
- Total expenses in 2023-24 are $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.
- A surplus of $2.4 billion is forecasted 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.
- 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.
What the Government is Saying:
“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.” – Hon. Travis Toews, President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Finance
“Alberta is already leading by example when it comes to economic growth and diversification, and Budget 2023 builds on that advantage. Funding in this budget will drive more investment, more job creation, more population growth and more opportunities for Albertans to find well-paying jobs. Alberta is open for business, and this budget reflects that.” – Hon. Travis Toews, President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Finance
“Building a resilient and responsive health-care system that meets the needs of Albertans is essential to keeping our province healthy. This is why Budget 2023 includes another record-high health-care investment, so we can put the right health-care professionals, resources and services where they are needed most.” – Hon. Jason Copping, Minister of Health
“Inflation continues to challenge Albertans, and affordability remains top of mind for many. That’s why we are working hard to save Albertans money so they can focus on what really matters. Budget 2023’s strong affordability measures – including extended fuel tax relief, continued utility rebates and new supports for students and social services workers – will help to keep life affordable for families, seniors, individuals and vulnerable groups across the province.” – Hon. Matt Jones, Minister of Affordability and Utilities
“By working with various levels of government and Indigenous organizations with a shared goal of increasing safety for Albertans, trust is built between the public and the police that serve their community. These investments will find local solutions to keep Albertans and their families safe, no matter where they choose to call home.” – Hon. Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services