Oil cash gushes in Alberta, Canada as UCP releases provincial budget, surprising many experts

Oil cash gushes in Alberta, Canada as UCP releases provincial budget, surprising many experts

Alberta’s economic fortunes continue to rise due to the oil and gas industry. The United Conservative Party (UCP) has announced a provincial budget that increases spending on healthcare, education, infrastructure, and other projects. The budget sees an operating cost increase of $2.6 billion and capital costs in the tens of billions.

The surplus of $10 billion from last year, with another $2.4 billion projected for this year, provides the government with a lot of funding for extravagant promises in the upcoming spring election.

Political analyst Ken Boessenkool suggests that the election campaign will center on whether voters want a province with higher spending or more savings.

The UCP’s budget includes a rise in expenses by $2.6 billion to $68.3 billion, which includes hiring 7,600 new government workers, primarily in healthcare and education.

Additionally, the health budget will reach a record high of $24.5 billion, an increase of 4.1%. The budget also includes lowering utility bills and a $23 billion infrastructure campaign over the next three years to improve and build highways, hospitals, and other projects.

The oil and gas industry continues to provide a massive windfall for the province. Although revenues are down slightly from last year due to lower commodity prices, they remain well above average, and corporate taxes are expected to hit a record high due to the strength of the overall provincial economy. The UCP intends to lower the province’s debt by about $15 billion from 2021-22 to 2023-24, leaving the amount owing at about $75 billion.

Many experts are surprised by the sharp rise in spending, given that the UCP promised fiscal prudence and restraint when elected four years ago. However, the oil cash keeps gushing, and with the election on the horizon, more hefty campaign promises are expected from all parties.

The decision to spend or save must reflect what many Albertans are facing as inflation hits them in the pocketbook, says political science professor Lori Williams.


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