The Alberta government plans to boost funding for health care, K-12 education, public safety, and debt repayment, with a projected $10 billion surplus for the current fiscal year.
The budget was tabled three months before the provincial election and also includes legislation requiring balanced budgets, with some exceptions.
Finance Minister Travis Toews stated that the government aims to increase access to health care and improve the education system, providing an operating funding increase of over 5% for growing urban school boards.
In addition, funding for post-secondary institutions will rebound as part of a three-year plan to add 10,000 post-secondary seats across the province.
The budget includes an increase in health-care spending by nearly 4% or almost $1 billion, with more paramedics and ambulances, more home-care workers, and expanded primary care.
Funding for public safety and emergency services will increase by 12%, aimed at paying more Crown prosecutors and judges, hiring more sheriffs, running jails, and fighting organized crime.
While NDP Leader Rachel Notley criticized the budget, calling it based on flimsy assumptions and insufficiently reinvested in public services, the budget includes increased funding for student transportation, increased K-12 education funding, and public funding to schools for post-secondary education.
The government also aims to enshrine balanced budgets in provincial law and create a new “Alberta Fund” to limit spending surpluses, with half of any additional cash dedicated to debt repayment.