The Government of Alberta has just released its budget plan for 2020
Alberta’s oil-reliant economy has been unstable recently due to a rising call for climate action, a declining oil industry,and the controversial pipeline that has left many businesses and companies in uncertainty. Many have voiced their fear of a new recession in an economy that is still recovering from the recession in 2015-2016. However, although a mild recession of 0.8 percent was observed in 2019, the economy is expected to rebound in 2020 and see a growth of between 2.1 percent and 3.4 percent in 2021. These improvement projections do little to alleviate the worries of many local businesses and companies that are struggling to maintain profit, as well as local citizens worried about job security. The government is addressing these issues (amongst others) in their new budget plan, focusing on job development and decreasing debt for the province.
Highlights of the 2020 Budget Plan
The new budget cuts the province’s operating expenses by 2.5 percent over the course of 3 years. Below are some major changes that are being made to certain sectors.
Prosecutors and Victims of Crime: The government is cutting funding for the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service by $3 million. However, they are putting $17 million into funding for “public safety priorities,” which will include crime prevention and enforcement.
Municipal Support: The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is expected to spend 5 percent less in 2020-21 than in the past two years. This reflects the incentive to cut down on spending costs in the province and led to the establishment of the Local Government Fiscal Framework in 2022-23 that will reduce the provincial funding of municipalities by $163 million.
Education: An increase of $100 million has been seen in the education funding. However, it is money that will come directly from the schools through collection methods such as school fees, facility rentals, savings and other sources. While this may result in some improvements to the education system, the sourcing of money from the schools could also mean reductions from other aspects of the school.
Vaping: The government plans on introducing a 20 percent vaping tax on all sales of vaping devices and liquids. This is expected to generate $8 million a year in revenue as well as discourage the purchasing of vape items.
March on Parliament
The 2020 Budget Plan for Alberta focuses primarily on cutting costs, and this raises many issues with the public sector as they feel that they are being stripped of funding. This has led to many protests, including a march on Parliament as the new budget is being released.
While the government is branding the new budget as a turning point for the economy, many protesters only see a deficient in the public sector, meaning more job losses and reduced resources.
Alberta’s oil industry and future prospects
Alberta has one of the world’s largest unconventional oil deposits and is the primary energy province of Canada. Apart from oil, Alberta’s energy resources also include natural gas and minerals. Alberta’s Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction industry accounts for around 6.1% of its total employment. Overall, the industry accounts for 27.9% of Alberta’s GDP.
While the oil industry is a major part of Alberta’s economy, the decline of demand for oil has created more incentive for renewable energy sources. Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan hopes to phase out all coal-fired power plants and generate 30% of Alberta’s energy from renewable sources by 2030. This includes generating 5000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity that is expected to bring in 10.5 billion in investment.
“Alberta Faces ‘Mild Recession In 2019’ Due Largely To Pipeline Uncertainty, Conference Board Forecasts | CBC News”. CBC, 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-mild-recession-conference-board-summer-2019-1.5253534. Accessed 4 Mar 2020
“Alberta Faces ‘Mild Recession In 2019’ Due Largely To Pipeline Uncertainty, Conference Board Forecasts | CBC News”. CBC, 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-mild-recession-conference-board-summer-2019-1.5253534. Accessed 4 Mar 2020.
“More Than 1,200 Protesters March Against Alberta Government Public Sector Cuts | CBC News”. CBC, 2020, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-protest-against-public-sector-cuts-1.5481274. Accessed 4 Mar 2020.