Alberta’s $12.3 billion budget surplus will fund affordability program: finance minister

EDMONTON — Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews announced Thursday at a news conference that Alberta has forecast a $12.3 billion surplus in the 2022-23 mid-year budget. That’s far more than an earlier February forecast of just $511 million.

Toews said the surplus will allow the province to provide significant assistance to Albertans and their families so they can “keep more money in their pockets for groceries, gas, utilities and essentials.” ‘other rising costs of daily living’.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has pledged $2.4 billion in the current fiscal year and next for a range of support and inflation-fighting measures primarily targeting low-income families medium to low, the elderly and the vulnerable. Benefits of $600 will be sent to select Albertans over the next six months, including families with children under 18 earning less than $180,000, seniors and those receiving income support, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped and other government benefits. There will also be a six month freeze on provincial fuel taxes.

Toews clarified that the affordability relief measures will be funded from the current surplus and do not involve withdrawals from the Heritage Trust Savings Fund or debt repayment schemes. “Our government is the first government to reinvest all of the income from the Heritage Savings Trust Fund into the trust fund,” said the Minister.

The Minister suggested that if investment income had been left in the Heritage Savings Trust Fund since its inception, with no additional contributions or withdrawals, Alberta would have had over $270 billion by the end of 2019 and nearly $300 billion dollars in the fund. today.

“Powerhouse”

The surplus is attributed to Alberta being “an energy powerhouse,” Toews said. “Alberta continues to have economic momentum despite global uncertainty, with a projected surplus of $12.3 billion and debt repayment of $13.4 billion.”

He said the province’s total revenue forecast for this fiscal year is expected to total $76.9 billion. This will be the case even with less personal income tax once the system is indexed to inflation, as announced by the accessibility package. More revenue is expected to come from corporate income tax due to business growth and significant population growth.

Toews said Alberta is responsible for more than a quarter of new jobs created in Canada this year, despite accounting for just 12% of the country’s population. The province also recorded the highest population growth among the four largest provinces in the first six months of 2022.

The province has consistently high revenue from bitumen royalties, corporate income tax and other revenue sources.

“De Havilland has announced a new aircraft manufacturing plant near Calgary, and it will eventually employ more than 1,500 people. In the first half of the year alone, Alberta recorded 56 deals worth $481 million in venture capital investment. The province’s agri-food sector has attracted nearly $1.5 billion in new investment and created nearly 3,000 jobs in Alberta since 2019. These successes solidify Alberta’s position as Canada’s economic engine,” said the minister.

And $79.8 billion will remain in taxpayer-funded debt, and the government has indicated that another $10.8 billion over the next three years will be dedicated to savings, debt reduction and future prosperity. of the province.

Toews said, “In the face of a potential global recession, Albertans can be assured that our province is in the best possible position thanks to our focus on responsible fiscal management over the past three years. By investing in savings and reducing the debt of future generations, we continue to make Alberta the best place to live, work and raise a family.

Marnie Catcart

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Marnie Cathcart is an Edmonton-based journalist.

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