Alberta plans to begin borrowing for the first time in 20 years, with capital debt expected to reach $36.6 billion by 2018. It’s part of the NDP’s first budget, revealed Tuesday by Finance Minister Joe Ceci.
Alberta will run the biggest deficit in its history at $6.1 billion, which Ceci says is due to the drop in oil prices. That will lead to a $5.7 billion drop in revenue this year, but he notes that it’s nothing the province hasn’t seen before.
“Alberta needs to reduce its vulnerability to price shocks over which we have no control. We must do this by saving for a rainy day, by diversifying the economy, and by getting the maximum possible value out of the development of our energy resources.”
Among plans for spending is $34 billion on capital projects like roads, schools, and hospitals over the next five years, a two-year job incentive programs with a cap of $89 million dollars, and $101 million on family and community support services this year. The province is also upping the amount of capital available to ATB Financial by $1.5 billion.
“With access to a little more capital, there are remarkable opportunities for growth and diversification right across the province. There are opportunities in the towers in Calgary and Edmonton, in our great universities and colleges, and in mid-size and rural communities north and south.”
At the same time, taxes on liquor will go up 5 per cent at midnight, while the cost of a carton of cigarettes goes up $5. The province has also enacted a two-year tuition freeze for post-secondary students, and a one per cent insurance premium tax hike, as well as the hiring of 380 more teachers and 150 support staffers for grade schools.
Full details can be found here.