by Morinville News Staff
The recession is over – and things are looking up was a central theme of the 2018-19 budget, tables Thursday afternoon by the NDP government, despite $40 billion in new debt over the next five years. That debt will be $8.8 billion and reduce annually over the next five years.
The government says Budget 2018-19 will move Alberta off the resource revenue rollercoaster by building “a more resilient and diversified economy based on stable, predictable funding, and getting the most value out of our resources.”
The NDP also say Budget 2018 also sets the path to balancing the budget by 2023-24 by investing public dollars where they are needed most, eliminating waste, controlling spending and finding efficiencies.
“The recession is behind us and Alberta’s economy is looking up. Alberta’s economy is creating good, mortgage-paying jobs and Alberta led the country in economic growth last year and is poised to do so again in 2018,” Joe Ceci, President of Treasury Board, Minister of Finance. “We will hold the line on spending increases and invest in new opportunities that create good jobs and diversify the economy. We will make sure the benefits of Alberta’s strengthening economic recovery will reach all Albertans and is built to last.”
Budget 2018-19 looks to invest $1 billion for partial upgrading over eight years beginning in 2019-20, generating up to $6 billion in private investment for natural gas processing through $500 million in royalty credits, and encouraging construction of new extraction facilities with $500 million in loan guarantees and grants for a Petrochemical Feedstock Infrastructure Program.
The government is also plannign to extending the Capital Investment Tax Credit, and launching a $20-million new Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit to attract and retain more tech entrepreneurs, and funding 3,000 new post-secondary technology spaces over the next five years and new scholarships to support technology and other emerging sectors like life sciences, clean technology and health innovation.
The government will also extend the post-secondary tuition freeze for the fourth year and continue the salary freeze on non-union public-sector employees as well as keeping the size of the Alberta Public Service flat.
The NDP say they will create 4,500 additional affordable child-care spaces through the Early Learning and Child Care Centre Program.
But the United Conservative Party is not impressed with the budget, stating Alberta’s “Virtual Finance Minister Hands Down Real Disaster Budget” in a media release Thursday afternoon targeting the province’s carbon levy.
“Hidden from Albertans in this budget is a 67 per cent hike to the Trudeau-NDP carbon tax, just like it was hidden from Albertans in the last election,” said UCP Leader Jason Kenney. “With their rose-coloured glasses, the NDP continues to demonstrate that they are deeply out of touch with the concerns and priorities of everyday Albertans who continue to manage their finances a heck of a lot better than this NDP finance minister.”
Kenney went on to blast the NDP’s deficit, particularly the $3.7 billion in interest Kenney says the province will be spending by 2023.
“In their 2015 campaign platform, the NDP promised a $25 million surplus by this year. Instead, Albertans get an NDP deficit of $8.8 billion,” Kenney said. “We are drowning in a sea of red ink. By 2023-34, the year the NDP is promising a return to balance, Alberta will have $96 billion in total debt. The NDP will have increased Alberta’s debt by a massive 638% versus what they inherited.”