While lower than originally expected the province will run an $8.8 billion dollar deficit this year. Originally it was expected to be closer to the $10.8 billion mark. The budget is heavily focused on diversifying the province away from the boom and bust cycle.
Titled “A Recovery Built to Last,” there’s a forecast reduction in the annual deficit each year until it reaches a $700-million surplus by 2023-24. Revenues that are factored in include the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Enbridge Line 3 and the Keystone XL project.
Finance Minister Joe Ceci stresses the pipelines will get built saying they’re “important” for Canada and Alberta. Energy Minister Marg McQuaig-Boyd echoed that statement saying she won’t let anybody turn their back on the Alberta energy sector.
“We’ve been clear all along that every option is on the table. We’re not going to hesitate or stop until that pipeline is built. We’ll continue and I’m very confident that it’s going to be built.”
Along with the pipeline revenue this is the first provincial budget that takes cannabis revenue into account.
There was also a commitment for 20 new schools at a cost of $393 million and $25 million for modular or portable classrooms.
RCMP funding as well as funding for the Alberta Association of Sexual Assault Survivors was also included. $5.3 billion is to be spent on climate initiatives and transit projects. A full budget breakdown can be found here.
UCP leader Jason Kenney has reacted to the budget calling it “an endless sea of debt”.
This is the fourth consecutive deficit budget for the NDP government since taking over the PC’s 44 year reign in 2015.