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Laura Tejeda is a columnist with LCCMedia

Alberta’s 2023 Budget: Optimism and More Support for Health and Education | Laura TEJEDA MEZA

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The new year’s budget assures hope for the development of the communities, improved welfare of the people, and securing a bright future.

According to Alberta’s government, in 2023, rising borrowing costs and Prices will continue to dampen consumer spending. However, the new budget Plans are to face these difficulties, continue the province’s development, and ensure (and improve) Albertans living quality in the short and long term.

The 2023’s budget covers different fronts that assure amelioration and a perception of progress. According to its statement, the economy has fully recovered from the pandemic downturn. It is expected to lead the country in gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 2.8% with Alberta’s GDP surpassing its 2014 peak last year and an upsurge in population which is expected to relieve the tight labor market and buoy job gains.

Learn more about Alberta's budget
Learn more about Alberta’s budget.

Moreover, Alberta’s GDP growth is expected as the real GDP is forecasted to increase by 3.0% in 2014 and an average of 2.9% between 2025 and 2026, over the medium term as the economic growth elevates and becomes more broad-based.

The government makes bold investments in 2023’s budget, setting a new record in the healthcare system, increasing education funds to help students and those in affordability measures, increasing support in helping citizens in need, enhancing community policies and access to addiction and mental health supports to keep citizens and communities safe, invests in infrastructure, attracts more investment to help businesses and entrepreneurs thrive, securing the future of Alberta’s economy

All this along with the budget forecasting a surplus of $2.4 billion in 2023-24 and prioritizing fiscal responsibility(supporting a new fiscal network), in addition to living within the means, while making spending decisions will support the long-term sustainability of the programs, and services that are important to the meeting the people’s need and at the same time positioning the economy for growth.
The budget highlights key areas which include:

Strengthening Health Care.

Budget 2023 is investing in the healthcare system by increasing operating expenses by $965 million from the 2022-23 forecast increasing the health operating expense by 4.1%.
The new funding will be used to improve services:

  • Reduce wait time for surgeries, increased ambulance services, and more expansion and modernization of hospitals.
  • $195 million is allocated to the emergency medical services to hire more workers to alleviate the shortage of health workers and to implement recommendations
  • $15 million to upgrade the Emergency medical services buses
  • Training of medical service workers.
Supporting citizens.

Although the economy has recovered families are yet to recover from the economic effect of the pandemic, and many are still struggling to heat their homes and feed their families. The budget continues to provide relief through the affordability action plan. Citizens will continue to benefit from ongoing programs such as the fuel tax relief program, electricity rebates, natural gas rebates, and monthly $100 affordability payments for seniors, families, and Albertans on certain benefit programs.

Increased Education Funds

The young people are yet still suffering from the aftermath of the pandemic, even though the state of the Alberta economy has improved from its economic downturn, the consequences of the pandemic continue to plague the youth sector.
Many students are still suffering from the impacts of the pandemic stress and learning losses which inevitably led to difficulty with basic numeracy and literacy, the older kids are scoring lower on standardized tests and taking longer to graduate, this is aside from the consequences of the mental stress faced by students of all grade due to social isolation.
Many are faced with difficulty in paying tuition fees resulting from the economic downturn of the pandemic.

  • 2023’s budget makes education more affordable for post-secondary students and graduates, Making tuition more predictable by implementing a 2% cap on increases for 2024-25 and future academic years, reducing the student Loan interest rates to prime, and making it easier for students to pay back student loans.
  • Increasing the Repayment Assistance Plan qualification criteria to $40,000 of income, from $25,000, Extending the grace period for the payment.
Supporting social sector workers

Personal income tax revenue in 2023-24 is estimated at $14.1 billion, an increase of $263 million from 2022-23. Alberta’s Revenue is forecasted to increase by $2 billion, or an average of 6.9% per year, between 2023-24 and 2025-26, due to improvements in employment, wages, and household income growth.

  • Budget 2023 includes $102 million per year to increase the wages of more than 20,000 social sector workers beginning in 2023-24.
  • $24 million has been disbursed in February to pay workers, providing $8 million in 2023-24 for disability service providers to address increasing administrative costs.
Public safety investment.

The budget incorporates the safety and well-being of the people including those who suffer from mental ailments and addictions and those who are involved with the Justice system.

  • $709 million was budgeted for 2023-24 which is an increase of $84 million from the 2022-23 forecast, which will ensure the funding of contrast policies, helping municipalities to fight crime.
  • $81 million more over three years for correctional services which include building and expanding therapeutic living at correctional centers for the inmate to access mental-heath treatment.
Boosting the economy

Alberta’s economic growth is focused mainly on Job creation, economic growth, diversification, and investment attraction.
Low taxes are a criteria component of the Alberta plan to increase investment and job creation in addition to attracting and retaining skilled workers.
The Low taxes attract large companies and corporations, the companies will yield benefits to the economy by generating high-paid jobs which will improve the high standard of living. Moreover, competitiveness will increase with increased investment in key and emerging sectors.

  • $5 million annually for advertising campaigns 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.

Funding opportunities targeted at improving small-scale businesses, arts, and communities are also included in the 2023’s budget this will facilitate programs that enhance culture, increase tourist attractions and improve facilities.

  • $369 billion over 3 years to support businesses in remote areas and $100 billion over 3 years for increased film and Television Tax credits funding.
  • The aboriginal business investment will receive a funding of $23 million over the next 3 years, a 50% increment in funding.
  • The investment and growth fund will receive $15 million annually.
Building infrastructure and leveraging on natural resources.

To boost the economy of Alberta, infrastructural development, construction of road networks, the building of modern hospitals, and such infrastructures are key in Alberta’s plan to ensure exponentiality in Alberta’s economic growth.
The 2023’s budget includes a significant investment in new and existing programs to ensure the province’s position to emit fewer carbon emissions as natural resources play a major role in the province’s economy.
More so, access to surplus and affordable low-cost natural resources will continue to attract investments.

Equipping the workforce

The budget provides for improving the skills of the workers to ensure maximum effectiveness of the workers and to ensure they are equipped with knowledge and skill to fill jobs in key sectors.

  • To address the labor shortages in a key sector, $156 million in 2025-26 to the workforce initiative.
  • Career and employment services allocated $95 million to ensure Job seekers are equipped with the resources and tools they need to gain new skills and rejoin the workforce.

Find out more about the budget here

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