Alberta may be dealing with a decline in revenues but that isn’t stopping the province from maintaining its commitment to infrastructure spending. In addition to the jobs this announcement promises, it also bodes well to the provinces ability to overcome the downturn and move forward.
“We’re still expecting 80,000 new Albertans this year and they won’t be bringing schools, hospitals or roads with them,” said Alberta Premier Jim Prentice.
Finance Minister Robin Cambell, who tabled the budget March 26th, echoed these sentiments stating that building must continue through the downturn to provide infrastructure for future growth.
Under the provincial government’s five-year plan, $29.5 billion will be spent on creating new infrastructure and maintaining existing facilities. $6.7 billion of this total will be allocated to investments in the province’s transportation network, while $7.9 billion will go to municipal infrastructure support and $5.6 billion to the Municipal Sustainability Initiative. Schools, healthcare, seniors housing, trades training and water management are some of the other projects set to receive significant funding.
To pay for all of this, Alberta is introducing new taxes and fees, including a progressive tax system instead of the flat 10% income tax it has had in years past. That said, corporate tax rates will remain unchanged at 10% and Alberta will remain the only province without provincial sales tax.
Health care premiums will also make a reappearance and an increasingly large percentage of oil revenues will be directed towards debt repayment and the province’s contingency fund starting in 2019.