Alberta provincial budget, 2019

The 2019 Alberta budget, known as the A plan for jobs and the economy, is the budget for the province of Alberta for fiscal year 2019 - 2020. It was presented to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta on October 24, 2019 by Travis Toews, the Minister of Finance of Alberta of the Government of Alberta.

Overview

On October 24, 2019, Minister of Finance of Alberta and President of the Treasury Board, Travis Toews, presented the United Conservative Party (UCP)'s first provincial budget, the 2019 Alberta budget known as the "A plan for jobs and the economy".[2]

The National Post said that it fulfilled their "promise of slight austerity" with "cuts to spending programs and the elimination of hundreds of bureaucracy jobs".[3] The Post said that these and the corporate tax cuts "were the key planks of a four-year plan to bring the budget into balance."[3] The goal is to reduce government spending by $4-billion over four years,[3] and to balance the budget by 2022-2023.[4][5][5] The 2019-20 budget will "run a deficit of $8.7 billion" which is approximately "$2-billion higher than in 2018-19."[3]

Revenues

Revenues for fiscal year 2019-2020 are expected to be $50 billion.[1]:10 At the end of FY2018-2019 total revenue was $49.6 billion, which was "$2.3 billion higher than in 2017-18, and an increase of $1.7 billion from budget."[6]:3

Total revenue (millions of dollars)[1]:63
2018 2019
Personal income tax 11,874 11,990
Corporate income tax 4,871 4,177
Other tax revenue 6,833 5,766
Resource revenue – Bitumen royalties 3,214 4,682
Resource revenue – other 2,215 1,845
Federal transfers 8,013 9,200
Investment income 2,349 2,585
Net income from business enterprises 2,585 2,417
Premiums, fees and licences 3,911 3,872
Other revenue 3,759 3,482
Total revenue 49,624 50,016

Expenditures

Total program spending was $54,548 million in 2018 and $54,612 million in 2019.[1]:182 The total expenditures which includes total program spending, debt servicing costs and pension provisions, were $56,335 million in 2018 with a forecast of $58,720 million in spending in 2019.[1]:12

Program spending decreased for Advanced Education, Agriculture and Forestry, Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Education, Environment and Parks, Indigenous Relations, Seniors and Housing, Service Alberta, and the Treasury Board and Finance.

Total expenditures (millions of dollars)[1]:182
2018 2019
Advanced Education 6,094 5,842 Decrease
Agriculture and Forestry 1,434 1,411 Decrease
Children's Services 1,492 1,586 Increase
Community and Social Services 3,636 3,910 Increase
Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women 327 277 Decrease
Economic Development, Trade and Tourism 356 295 Decrease
Education 8,637 8,580 Decrease
Environment and Parks 748 724 Decrease
Executive Council 17 20 Decrease
Health 21,915 22,105 Increase
Indigenous Relations 261 198 Decrease
Infrastructure 639 613 Decrease
Justice and Solicitor General 1,454 1,454
Labour and Immigration 209 220 Increase
Municipal Affairs 1,229 1,521 Increase
Seniors and Housing 726 704 Decrease
Service Alberta 688 675 Decrease
Transportation 1,584 1,703 Increase
Treasury Board and Finance 2,221 1,861 Decrease
Legislative Assembly 137 159 Increase
Total Program Expense 54,548 54,612

Healthcare and social assistance

According to the budget, "Current, generous levels for Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), the Alberta Seniors Benefit, Income Support and Special Needs Assistance programs will be maintained. Indexation will be paused but benefits will not be rolled back or cut."[1]:14 The budget says that, "AISH recipients currently receive $1,685 a month in basic benefits which is $430 per month more than the next highest province."[1]:14 However, the budget reversed the "Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)’s tie to inflation." The decision to de-index disability benefits met with outrage, according to The Star with many people "vocal about their disdain" for the decision, including Arlene Dickinson, formerly with the Dragon Den's.[7]

Advanced education

The budget forecast a growth in revenue of $181 million over the next 3 years, as the province ends the freeze in tuition fees in 2020-21 and allows the fees to increase to "up to 7 per cent per year for the next three years." This is in response to recommendations of the Janice MacKinnon's August 2019 "Report and Recommendations: Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta's Finances".[8] In August 2019, Janice MacKinnon's task force submitted the report commissioned by Premier Kenney, "Report and Recommendations: Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta's Finances".[9] mandated by Premier Kenney to "figure out how to balance the provincial books without raising taxes."[10] McKinnon, who was Saskatchewan's finance minister, found that "Alberta spends more per person on its public sector, and compensates its teachers, doctors and other workers more generously, than other major provinces."[10] The panel recommended that the post-secondary tuition freeze be lifted, and suggested "various measures to slash health-care costs and government-wide program reviews."[10] The Post said that the changes in post-secondary education were "significant" with a 12-per-cent funding cut[3] and a reduction in "government grants to post-secondary institutions".[3] Together that represents a $1.9 billion in cuts in post-secondary education.[3] Post-secondary institutions will be allowed to increase tuition.[3]

Budget omnibus bills

On October 28, the Minister Toews introduced Bill 20, an omnibus bill which included a clause through which the government of Alberta could withdraw the $1.53-billion grant it had promised for Calgary's Green Line "with just 90 days' notice and without cause."[11]

Minister Toews introduced a second omnibus bill, Bill 21, on October 28, as part of his budget that allows the provincial government to "cancel its master agreement with doctors if the two sides can't negotiate a new deal."[8] In an October 30 open letter to all members of the Alberta Medical Association, Dr. Christine Molnar, AMA director, said that the "bill effectively gives government the power of pre-approval to cancel any physician services agreement without recourse. This is a violation of the sanctity of contracts."[8] The bill would also give the government control over where new doctors can work starting in March 2022, in order to provide better service to rural areas.[8]

Total debt

As of March 31, 2019, Alberta's total outstanding debt was $85.9 billion. This includes $62.7 billion in taxpayer supported debt and "$18.1 billion in loans to self‑supporting provincial corporations", which together total $80.8 billion, as well as all the other debts issued by the "Province of Alberta, money borrowed directly by the Alberta Capital Finance Authority, and P3 contracts."[1]:168 Of the 85.9 billion, "$5.1 billion is lent to government‑business enterprises (or GBEs)."[1]:168 The $5.1 billion debt for these government‑business enterprises is not consolidated with provincial financial statements or debt but is listed on the GBEs' financial statements. The $80.8 billion is "shown in government's consolidated statement of financial position."[1]:168 The cost to service the debt in 2018-2019 was about $2 billion.[1]:168

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Budget 2019: Fiscal Plan: A plan for jobs and the economy 2019-23 (PDF). Treasury Board and Finance, Government of Alberta (Report). Edmonton, Alberta. October 24, 2019. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-4601-4596-8. ISSN 2369-0127. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  2. ^ "What you'll pay: Highlights from Alberta's 2019 provincial budget". Calgary Herald via Post Media. October 24, 2019. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Dawson, Tyler (October 24, 2019). "Jason Kenney's conservatives deliver the tougher budget they warned Albertans was necessary". National Post. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  4. ^ "Public sector wage arbitration deferral". Government of Alberta. June 13, 2019. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Opposition says new legislation could see province not honour public sector contracts". Calgary. June 13, 2019. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  6. ^ 2018-2019 Final Results Year-End Report (PDF). Alberta Treasury Board and Finance Communications (Report). Edmonton, Alberta. June 2019. p. 15. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  7. ^ Yousif, Nadine (October 25, 2019). "UCP's new budget met with outrage over the untying of disability benefits to inflation". The Star Edmonton. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Bennett, Dean (October 31, 2019). "Alberta doctors call proposed new pay plan cynical and heavy-handed". CBC News. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  9. ^ MacKinnon, Janice (August 2019). Report and Recommendations: Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta's Finances (PDF) (Report). p. 82. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Markusoff, Jason (September 3, 2019). "Jason Kenney's convenient blueprint to fix half of Alberta's fiscal house". Maclean's. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  11. ^ "Largest project in Calgary's history under threat from provincial changes, says Nenshi". CBC News. November 2, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2019.

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