Alberta Budget Surplus of $12.3 Billion Will Fund Affordability Package: Finance Minister

EDMONTON—Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews announced at a news conference Thursday that Alberta has a projected surplus of $12.3 billion in the 2022–23 mid-year budget. That’s much higher 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 other rising costs of daily living.”

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has pledged $2.4 billion in the current and next fiscal year for a series of support and inflation relief measures aimed primarily at middle- to lower-income families, seniors and the vulnerable. There will be $600 in benefits sent over the next six months to some Albertans, including families with children under 18 who earn less than $180,000, seniors and those receiving income support, insured income for the severely disabled and other government benefits. There will also be a six-month freeze on provincial fuel taxes.

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Toews specified the affordability relief measures will be funded through the current surplus, and do not involve withdrawals from the Legacy Savings Trust Fund or debt retirement plans. “Our government is the first government to reinvest the entire earnings of the Heritage Savings Trust Fund into the trust fund,” said the minister.

The minister suggested that if investment income had been left in the Legacy Savings Trust Fund from its inception, with no additional contributions and no withdrawals, Alberta would have had more than $270 billion at the end of 2019, and almost $300 billion in the fund today.

‘Energy 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 total county revenue forecast for this fiscal year is expected to be $76.9 billion. This will be the case even with less personal income tax collected once the system is indexed against inflation, as announced by the affordability package. More revenue is expected from corporate income tax due to business growth and significant population growth.

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Toews said Alberta accounts for more than one-quarter of the new jobs created in Canada this year, while representing just 12 percent of the country’s population. The province also had the highest population growth among the four largest provinces in the first six months of 2022.

The province sees continued high revenues from bitumen royalties, corporate income tax and other revenue streams.

“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 saw 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 has created nearly 3,000 jobs in Alberta since 2019. These successes solidify Alberta’s position as the economic engine of Canada,” said the minister.

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

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

Marnie Cathcart

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Marnie Cathcart is a reporter based in Edmonton.

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