How does Alberta’s 2015 budget deal with the fiscal challenges we face as Albertans?
How might the budget affect you?
First of all, we all know the financial situation has changed a great deal in Alberta in the last year. Oil is half the price it was in June, creating one of the most difficult economic challenges Alberta has faced in many years.
In recent years, approximately 30 per cent of our provincial revenue came from the energy sector. With low oil prices, relying on volatile resource revenue to fund core programs and services is no longer an option we can afford.
The government is taking action to get Alberta’s finances off the oil price rollercoaster and bring public sector spending in line with the national average. We will do so using sound, conservative fiscal principles.
Albertans understand our fiscal situation and have said they want a balanced approach to address the $7 billion gap in revenue. Budget 2015 uses three levers: spending restraint, enhancing revenue and using our savings in the Contingency Account to deliver that balance and move us to a more solid fiscal foundation.
The government’s long-term 10 year plan will minimize the impact of energy prices and allow us to protect core government services, pay down our capital debt and put more into the Heritage Trust Fund.
We will bring public spending more in line with the Canadian average over three to four years, and continue to build and maintain the infrastructure we need now and will need even more in the future.
A new five-year Capital Plan will meet Alberta’s needs for roads, schools, hospitals and other public facilities on a priority basis, and will triple the funding for maintenance and renewal by 2019-20.
Funding for primary education and vulnerable Albertans will be increased while overall spending will be flat from 2014 forecasts. Though we are holding the line on spending in certain areas, population growth will mean that things will get tighter, and Albertans will feel it. At the same time we want to be thoughtful about our spending adjustments, finding savings in administration as much as possible so we can protect front line services.
Maureen Kubinec, MLA Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock