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Reactions mixed on Alberta’s 2024 budget

By Dione Wearmouth

Alberta’s 2024 budget was announced by Minister of Finance Nate Horner Thursday, and it’s turning out to be quite polarizing.

It has everyone — from education and medical experts, to the mayor — speaking out, while others seems to be quite fond of the budget, which includes a $367 million surplus.

Education advocates are also disappointed, with the Alberta Teachers’ Association saying it fails to fix classroom underfunding, a sentiment echoed by Wing Li with Support Our Students Alberta.

“The slight bump in education funding unfortunately doesn’t cover inflation and enrolment growth — so inflation for Calgary is 4.1 per cent or so, so the increase of 4.4 [per cent] hardly covers just inflation peaks,” she said.

Nearly $2 billion has been set aside for education, including nearly $700 million to build 43 new projects.

Public Interest Alberta calls it an “austerity budget,” with executive director Bradley Lafortune saying he was hoping the surplus would do more to benefit those hit hardest by the cost of living crisis.

“It looks like there’s about a $3.6 billion gap between what the government is spending in this budget and what they need to be spending to keep up with those cost pressures,” he explained.


READ MORE: Alberta reports $367M surplus on 2024 Budget Day


One thing noticeably missing from the budget, tabled Thursday, is the previously promised income tax cut, which is being delayed until 2027.

Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt, says it will come right in time for the next election adding that, overall, the budget is safe in most ways.

“We’re still overly reliant — almost 25 per cent of the budget is still based on resource royalty revenue, and so it’s going to talk a while to get rid of that dependency,” he said.

On the provincial healthcare front, $26 billion will support improving primary care, and increasing access to family physicians.

Alberta Medical Association president Dr. Paul Parks, is mostly happy with the plans, after speaking directly with Alberta’s health minister, he says he’s excited to hear the province will once again be competitive in recruiting family physicians and rural generalists.

“Minister LaGrange has given me her word and her assurance that she’s committed to moving toward the new funding model for family medicine as soon and as quickly as possible,” he said.

In Calgary, Mayor Jyoti Gondek isn’t pleased with the budget, pointing out several of her concerns, including a lack of funding for housing and public services.

“This budget ignores the present realities facing Calgarians during the affordability and housing crisis, not to mention at a point-in-time where investors are actively looking at our city as a leader in tech and innovation,” she said. “There are no matching investments for our city, we are essentially on our own.”

Calgary is, however, getting about $2 billion to support projects like the new event centre and Green Line construction over the next three years.

Despite this, the mayor is giving it a thumbs down, specifically taking issue with the property tax.

“We were told a year ago that the province would entertain letting municipalities keep more of the property taxes that we collect here,” Gondek said. “With this budget, I can now confirm for you that the province is in fact taking $96 million more than last year.”


WATCH: What Calgary is getting from Budget 2024


But, not everyone is against the budget.

Calgary Chamber of Commerce VP of Policy and External Affairs, Ruhee Ismail-Teja, applauds the fiscal responsibility of the plan, saying it promotes talent and labour attraction, advances economic reconciliation, and helps future-proof critical industries like energy and agriculture.

“There’s lots in here that supports the business community — everything from support for agriculture, to energy and carbon capture, to the arts and some major infrastructure projects,” she said.

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