EDMONTON – The Alberta government released its budget Thursday. Here are some of the winners and losers:
Grade School Studentsand their parents — The budget will increase funding to match enrolment, build 10 new schools and upgrade or replace another 16. Schools fees paid by parents are also being cut by $54 million.
Post-Secondary Students — The government will extend a tuition freeze for a third year. There is also a two per cent hike to operating grants for institutions.
Patients and Seniors — There’s money in the budget to build a new hospital in Edmonton, a continuing care centre in Calgary and build or upgrade care facilities provincewide.
The eco–conscious — Over the next three years, the province will reinvest $5.4 billion from the carbon tax into everything from free energy efficient light bulbs to rapid-transit projects.
Smokers and drinkers — The budget doesn’t contain any new hikes to cigarettes or liquor.
Corporations — Corporate profits were hit hard in 2015 and 2016 and the budget forecasts it will take another five years to recover.
Future Taxpayers — Even if oil prices rebound as expected, Alberta’s debt will be $71 billion by decade’s end with interest payments over $2 billion a year.
Current taxpayers — The budget contains no new tax cuts.
Natural gas prices — Prices are expected to remain weak due mainly to increasing production of US shale gas.
Fiscal hawks — The $10.3-billion deficit budget doesn’t heed the call of critics who wanted the NDP to rein in spending.