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What the budget did include
Alberta’s debt is projected to ratchet up to $36.6 billion by the 2017-18 fiscal year. For the first time since 1994, the government is borrowing for operating spending – not just capital spending. A new act will limit Alberta government borrowing to 15 per cent of the GDP.
A Job Creation Incentive program will support the creation of 27,000 new jobs in both 2016 and 2017. Grants of up to $5,000 per new full-time equivalent position will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to small, medium and large corporations, registered charities, and other non-profit entities.
The government is increasing tobacco, liquor and the locomotive fuel taxes. It will freeze post-secondary tuition for two years – and provide more funding for social services and women’s shelters.
Salaries for cabinet ministers, MLAs, and political staff are frozen for four years.
The budget also includes a significant increase in infrastructure spending – a total of $34 billion of construction on big-tickets items such as schools, roads, bridges, health facilities and equipment over the next five years.
What the budget didn’t include
Despite former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge’s endorsement of user-pay for Calgary and Edmonton ring roads, and the main route to Fort McMurray and the oil sands region. “It would free financial resources for investment in other socially desirable capital projects and would result in a more efficient use of infrastructure,” wrote Mr. Dodge, who is advising the Notley government on infrastructure.
$25-a-day child care
An NDP election promise that Finance Minister Joe Ceci said Tuesday could still come to pass in the years ahead.
Any news about changes to Alberta’s energy royalty structure or climate change policies. Look for them later this year.
A provincial sales tax.
Alberta continues to be the only province without one.