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Budget 2014 delivers programs and services Albertans need

Mar 06, 2014

Budget 2014 is the next step in the Building Alberta Plan—with a focus on expanding our economy, driving innovation, and working every day to create a better quality of life for all Albertans.

Budget 2014 delivers the core services Albertans expect, makes strategic investments in innovation to improve the lives of Albertans today and into the future, and strengthens new and existing infrastructure to address the demands of our growing province and economy.

Investing in families and communities

Over 60 per cent of operational expense supports families and communities—delivering the programs and services Albertans need to live, grow, work and play.

Supporting health care where and when Albertans need it

  • Budget 2014 includes $18.3 billion for Health—an increase of more than $600 million that will support front-line service providers, seniors, young children, and the most vulnerable.
  • Health facilities will be supported by $393 million in funding for South Health Campus in Calgary, the Kaye Edmonton Clinic, and Strathcona Community Hospital.
  • Government is investing $326 million in primary health care and addiction and mental health services—an investment that supports government’s commitment to improve access to comprehensive, coordinated care.
  • An investment of $805 million for community-based health and wellness programs, services such as podiatry, oral and optometric care, tissue and blood services, immunization programs, and enhanced home care and rehabilitation.
  • $1.5 billion has been allocated to assist Albertans with prescription drugs, cancer therapy drugs and specialized high-cost pharmaceuticals.

“The government will continue its efforts to spend smarter, achieve better health outcomes for Albertans, and deliver better value for taxpayers. With the help of front-line health care workers, we will continue to build a healthier Alberta by making health care and wellness programs more accessible and providing them closer to home.”

– Health Minister Fred Horne

Supporting vulnerable Albertans

  • Alberta is keeping children safe, supporting adults with disabilities, providing needed services to the homeless, and supporting seniors.
  • Child intervention funding will be increased to $735 million, which is $42 million more than last year. This includes $199 million for foster care support, which will fund about 5,000 foster child placements.
  • Early intervention services for children and youth will receive $95 million. This includes increased Parent Link Centre outreach programming and enhanced home visitation supports for families at risk.
  • Government will continue to work with community partners to implement An Alberta Approach to Early Childhood Development.
  • $20 million for a new Family and Community Safety program, to support existing initiatives and enhance community capacity to address root causes of issues such as child sexual abuse and sexual and family violence.
  • Homelessness support programs will receive an additional $19 million (to $131 million) to house about 2,000 homeless Albertans and fund more than 3,200 emergency/transitional shelter spaces this year.
  • $967 million is budgeted for Supports to Persons with Disabilities, which aids more than 10,000 adults with developmental disabilities, provides family support for children with disabilities, and provides support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder initiatives.
  • Alberta continues to support seniors with $353 million budgeted for the Alberta Seniors Benefit, an increase of $21 million. As well, $31 million is allotted for special needs assistance for low-income seniors for things like home repairs and medical expenses.
  • More than $20 million in loans are anticipated under the Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program in 2014-15. Through this program, seniors most in need can keep more money in their pockets by deferring taxes until they sell their homes.

“We are building stronger families and communities by providing greater supports for our child intervention system, addressing family violence, and providing support for Albertans with all types of disabilities and challenges. We will be successful by ensuring Alberta’s communities have access to effective services that meet the needs of our growing and diverse population.”  – Manmeet S. Bhullar, Minister of Human Services

Focusing on education

  • Budget 2014 keeps students at the centre of investment in education, which sets the stage for a stronger, more prosperous Alberta.
  • Education’s operational budget is over $6.5 billion, with increased funding for enrolment growth in Alberta’s K-12 system, as well as funding for student transportation services, smaller class sizes, and supports to meet the diverse needs of Alberta students.
  • For Alberta’s post-secondary institutions, Budget 2014 will provide $2.1 billion in base operating grants, including an additional $32.5 million to create 2,000 new spaces this year.
  • Another $151 million is budgeted for additional support for adult learning, including $7 million as part of a 10-year, $70 million commitment to establish the Peter Lougheed Leadership Initiative to support the development of business leadership innovation and entrepreneurial skills.
  • $234 million is budgeted for student aid programs, including scholarships for about 38,500 students, and bursaries and grants to support about 29,000 students.
  • Additionally, $408 million in student loans will be disbursed to more than 63,000 students in 2014-15.
  • The Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund will support $38 million in scholarships this year. Additionally, $200 million will be transferred to the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund to provide new funding for Heritage Scholarships and other financial supports for students pursuing opportunities in the trades.
  • By investing in education, this government is ensuring Alberta can adapt to an ever-changing global economy.

“As Alberta’s population quickly grows, our government continues to fully fund every student. We’re directly investing $37 million each school day to make sure our students are getting the best outcomes from their education.”  – Jeff Johnson, Minister of Education

“Government continues to place a high priority on advanced education, entrepreneurship and innovation as keys to building Alberta. We’re supporting our students and post-secondary institutions by investing in new capital projects, supporting apprentices, and creating 2,000 new full-time post-secondary spaces.”  – Dave Hancock, Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education

Creating safe and prosperous communities

  • Alberta has become a province of choice for four million people—and another million will call Alberta home in the next decade or so.
  • Alberta’s rapid growth requires continued investment in infrastructure and over the next three years, we are investing more than $19 billion through the Building Alberta Plan for roads, schools, health facilities and municipal capital projects.
  • Budget 2014 will invest $3.7 billion over three years under the Municipal Sustainability Initiative —giving municipalities the support they need to address growth pressures.
  • Twinning Highway 63 to Fort McMurray remains on track for completion in 2016, a $691 million investment over the next three years.
  • 2,500 kilometres of existing provincial highways will be rehabilitated over the next three years, and 258 kilometres in new or twinned roadways will be built.
  • Government is also investing $1.4 billion to support other municipal infrastructure, including $667 million for GreenTRIP.
  • Excluding flood recovery initiatives, municipalities will receive nearly $2.1 billion in direct funding in Budget 2014, an increase of 8.6 per cent from 2013-14.
  • Culture and community-based support services enhance the quality of life for Alberta’s communities and residents. Budget 2014 commits $41 million for community and voluntary support services, $59 million to protect and promote Alberta’s history and heritage, and $64 million to support arts and cultural industries.
  • Through Budget 2014, the Alberta government will work with partners to maximize the potential of tourism across Alberta, and grow the tourism industry from $7.8 to $10.3 billion by 2020.
  • Alberta’s provincial parks system provides people with opportunities to connect with nature, be active and spend time with friends and family. This budget continues to support initiatives that keep Alberta’s provincial parks world class.
  • An additional $5.9 million has been allocated for 40 new RCMP officers in Alberta in 2014-15.
  • Government is also investing $31 million in 2014-15 to follow through on recommendations following the Slave Lake fire. The dollars will focus on wildfire prevention, hiring more firefighters and improving other firefighting resources to protect Alberta’s communities from the devastation of wildfires.

“Alberta has become the province of choice for four million people to live, work and play. Local people are in the best position to determine their community’s infrastructure needs to address pressures and help improve the quality of life in their towns and cities. That’s why our grant programs are designed to assist municipalities with their priorities to prepare for our province’s unprecedented growth.” – Ken Hughes, Municipal Affairs Minister

“Effective local transportation networks allow people and goods to move safely and efficiently within a community and help connect that community to provincial and national networks. We are committed to paving the way to ensure we can move our products to new markets and support the growing transportation needs of our ever-expanding population.” – Wayne Drysdale, Transportation Minister

Rebuilding Alberta through flood recovery

  • The 2013 flood was the single largest disaster in Canadian history—and flood recovery efforts are focused in four areas: people, the economy, reconstruction and the environment.
  • Nearly $1.1 billion in operational and capital funds will be spent on flood recovery over the next three years—this is in addition to the $3.8 billion in spending for 2013-14.
  • Funding will ensure the right resources are available to support the overall physical, mental and social well-being of communities, municipalities, First Nations, families and individual Albertans affected by the flood.
  • Budget 2014 includes support for rehabilitation and reinvestment in businesses, the safe and orderly restoration of flood damaged infrastructure, restoring aquatic ecosystems, and work to mitigate long-term flood impacts and risks.

Living within our means

Alberta has become the province of choice for four million people—and as we welcome another million new Albertans in the next decade or so, government must continue to be strategic and prepare for the province’s unprecedented growth.

Budget 2014 delivers a fully balanced budget, invests in the infrastructure Albertans need now, puts money aside for tomorrow and does all this without increasing taxes. The Alberta Government will continue to make wise choices and remain fiscally responsible in an effort to address future challenges head on.

Saving for Alberta’s future

  • Albertans have said they want government to save in both good times and in bad, and that is what this budget does.
  • The new Savings Management Act defines and implements this renewed vision and purpose for our savings.
  • Targeted endowments will encourage innovation in agricultural, social services and cultural sectors; enhanced funding to the Heritage Scholarship Fund will help address the skilled labour shortage; and the creation of the new Alberta Future Fund will position Alberta for future strategic opportunities.
  • Total savings—including the Heritage Fund and Contingency Account—will grow to $26 billion over the next three years.

Responsible spending

  • Government will spend $38.5 billion in operating expense in 2014-15 to deliver important core services, while responding to the challenges of rapid population growth.
  • While this is 3.7 per cent more than the previous year, government is maintaining fiscal discipline because this increase is significantly below the combined rate of inflation and population growth—and we will continue to be responsible.
  • We’re also looking inwards and improving not only the quality of the services we provide, but the efficiencies within those services. Through results-based budgeting, government has reviewed 375 programs to ensure we are maximizing the use of taxpayer money—a comprehensive review that will continue to change the way government does business.

Borrowing today to build for tomorrow

  • Albertans want government to continue investing in infrastructure, and are comfortable with financing these long term assets as long as it makes financial sense. And it makes financial sense to borrow at much lower rates than what our savings are currently earning. With our population growing by nearly 300 people a day, we can’t afford to wait.
  • Borrowing to build now protects us from construction cost increases. Alberta’s AAA credit rating allows us to lock in at the lowest possible rate. In exchange, Albertans have tangible assets like schools roads and hospitals to show for it.
  • Alberta’s borrowing plan is strategic and responsible. Government only borrows for infrastructure and there is a legislated cap on borrowing costs in place along with a clear plan to pay it back. Interest rates are close to a 50-year low.
  • We are building our net assets by using all the financial tools in the tool box.

Opening new markets for Alberta’s resources

Alberta is opening new markets for the province’s resources to get fairer prices—and that means encouraging new and better transportation infrastructure, building relationships inside and outside our borders, and advancing world-leading resource stewardship that will protect Alberta’s natural heritage for generations to come.

Innovative and responsible resource development

  • Alberta is building an integrated and coordinated resource management approach that takes into account the overall environmental, economic and social outcomes of resources development.
  • This big-picture approach enables the province to supply a growing global demand for energy while balancing the needs of Albertans and the environment.
  • Budget 2014 provides for the various components of this system, including $59 million in funding in 2014-15 for the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency. The Agency will provide open and transparent access to credible scientific data and information on environmental conditions and trends, primarily in the oil sands region.
  • $245 million is also budgeted for the Alberta Energy Regulator—an independent regulatory body responsible for approving energy-related development and enforcing Alberta’s strict operating and reclamation requirements. Once fully operational, the regulator will be fully industry funded.
  • More than $15 million is budgeted for the expanded Aboriginal Consultation Office that will better coordinate and increase the efficiency of consultations on land management and resource development.

Building relationships and opening new markets

  • Alberta is opening new markets for Alberta’s resources to get fairer prices—and that means encouraging new and better transportation infrastructure and building relationships inside and outside our borders.
  • $27 million has been budgeted for international relations to help bring Alberta’s products to fast-growing new markets all around the world.
  • This includes about $1 million in funding to support three new offices—in Brazil, California and Guangzhou, China—and continue to help deliver Alberta’s International Strategy along with the 13 other international offices.
  • Developing and growing markets in new parts of the world for our exported goods and services will create more economic opportunity, investment, jobs and revenues to support the programs and services Albertans rely on.
  • Ongoing efforts to strengthen Alberta’s agriculture sector and expand existing and open new markets will be supported through an average of $1 billion per year in operational funding to Agriculture and Rural Development. This work also includes ensuring food safety and animal health, and encourages further rural economic development.
  • Government will also establish a $200 million endowment account within the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund to support annual allotments for agriculture and food innovation, which will position Alberta as a global leader in research, emerging product development and commercialization opportunities.
  • Budget 2014 also reflects the Government of Alberta’s continuing commitment to increasing the participation of Aboriginal people in the social and economic life of the province, with $10 million earmarked for working with First Nations to develop economic opportunities for their people.

“Alberta’s export sector is the backbone of our economy. By expanding and opening new markets, we will maintain Alberta’s strong economy and high quality of life. Our work is building relationships across Canada and around the world that will position Alberta as a leader in responsible resource development – and a safe and secure place for global investment.” – Cal Dallas, Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations

Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta’s resources to ensure we’re able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.

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