Alberta's United Conservative government tabled its budget for 2020-2021 on Thursday, February 27th. A $6.8 billion dollar deficit on revenues of $50 billion. The budget deficit for 2019-20 year is $7.5 billion dollars, less than the $8.7 billion which was originally forecast.
Alberta's Finance Minster Travis Toews introduced Budget 2020 - A Plan For Jobs & The Economy on Thursday, February 27th in the legislature.
The Alberta budget remains mired in red ink, but doubles down on oil and gas and gives a boost to diversification.
Toews is forecasting a $6.8 billion dollar deficit this year on revenues of $50 billion.
The Finance Minister notes while unemployment remains stubbornly high at about seven per cent, he is optimistic that new pipeline projects and higher exports will mean more revenues for Alberta's lifeblood industry.
The province is also investing $200 million dollars to encourage innovation and attract talent in cutting-edge industries such as artificial intelligence.
Toews says given that oil prices will always be volatile, Alberta will keep a close watch on its spending to make sure it gets back to balanced books by 2023.
Meanwhile, Alberta's Minister of Agriculture & Forestry says "A Blueprint For Jobs" is included in Budget 2020.
Over the next four years, the Alberta government hopes to attract $1.4 billion dollars of investment to the province's agriculture value added sectors.
Devin Dreeshen calls it a very exciting and aggressive investment attraction strategy.
"A Blueprint For Jobs'' promises $200 billion dollars for growth initiatives new areas like high-tech, artificial intelligence, aviation and financial services.
The Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA notes the Agriculture & Forestry budget is over $833 million dollars for 2020.
He says the United Conservative Party's second Alberta budget did come in $1.2 billion dollars lower on their deficit then initially projected.
According to Dreeshen, they are making tough decisions in order to be more efficient and effective as a government.
Dreeshen says he and Alberta's Minister of Transportation - Ric McIver - both wrote letters to their federal counterparts this week regarding the recent blockades of key rail lines to the ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver.
He was pleased to see the Alberta Court of Appeal rule by a 4-1 margin on Monday, February 24th that the federal carbon tax is not constitutional.
Other highlights of Budget 2020 include maintained funding for core services, with $8.2 billion dollars for kindergarten to Grade 12 school education and $20.6 billion for health.
Alberta is to spend $26.7 billion on public sector compensation, with full-time equivalent jobs expected to drop by 1,436 mainly through attrition.
The capital plan will spend $19.3 billion dollars over three years, maintaining commitments on projects including the Calgary Cancer Centre, renovating the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary and funding for light rail transit projects in Edmonton as well as Calgary.
There will be $97 million over three years for an Alberta Film and Television Tax Credit to attract medium and large TV and film productions to Alberta.
Alberta will enact regulatory changes to permit increased airline traffic and services with airlines that have a significant presence in the province, and will work with post-secondary schools to address a shortage of pilots.
Alberta is also developing a 10-year tourism strategy with the goal of doubling tourism spending to $20 billion dollars by 2030.
(Contains content from The Canadian Press)