The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF)n called on the Government of Alberta to achieve a balanced budget by prioritizing spending restraint. The comments, made Tuesday, were in response to the Alberta government’s budget update.
“It’s good to see the deficit declining, but spending is still going up,” said CTF Alberta Director Kevin Lacey. “Alberta taxpayers also deserve a plan to balance the budget. Without a plan, the government is flying blind.”
2021 forecasted operating expenses were set at $48.3 billion; however, Tuesday’s provincial budget update indicates government operating expenses will increase by $595 million since the budget was approved.
CTF argues Alberta’s per capita spending is the highest in Canada and that the province’s annual expenditures would be $10 .4 billion less if per capita spending matched average spending in Canada’s three largest provinces.
“We can’t wait for COVID to go away to get a plan to balance the budget, there is always going to be uncertainty about the pandemic, it’s all the more reason why a plan is needed,” Lacey said. “The government was elected to tackle the province’s spending problem, and it’s time Alberta’s politicians tighten their belts like everyone else.”
Alberta’s NDP also offered criticism of Tuesday’s budget update.
“Thanks to the UCP, inflation costs you more in income tax and at the same time reduces the buying power of benefits for families, seniors and Albertans with disabilities,” said NDP Critic for Finance Shannon Phillips. “This comes while Albertans are paying more in property taxes, school fees, tuition and interest on student debt because of the UCP. Families are also getting hit by unprecedented auto insurance and utility bills, also thanks to the UCP.”
While Global energy prices lifted provincial revenues, personal income tax revenue accounted for the biggest second-quarter increase.
“Fewer Albertans at work, but more personal income tax revenue. Albertans are paying more income tax under Jason Kenney,” Phillips said. “This loss of Alberta jobs is because of the UCP’s deadly failure to manage the fourth wave of COVID-19. While the danger was obvious to everyone, the UCP did nothing.”