$30M in federal budget for orphan wells welcomed by premier

Premier Rachel Notley says the federal government’s decision to give Alberta $30 million to remediate orphan wells is good news.

Notley also pleased with money for First Nations water, child care

Premier Rachel Notley says $30 million to reclaim orphan wells will help put Albertans back to work. (CBC )

Premier Rachel Notley says the federal government's decision to give Alberta $30 million to remediate orphan wells is good news for the province.

The one-time funding was contained within the federal budget released Wednesday in Ottawa.

"This is money we have been strongly advocating for over the past few weeks and months," Notley said.

"We will leverage this money to aim more resources at putting Albertans back to work and reclaiming orphan wells."

A well is considered orphaned when its owner has gone out of business and can't cover the reclamation cost. Improperly cleaned up wells can contaminate the land and water. 

There were approximately 1,395 orphaned wells in Alberta at the end of last year, according to Alberta Energy.

Notley says her government will have more details on what will be done with this money in the first half of 2017.

Notley is also pleased the federal government wants to spend $1.1 billion on critical upgrades to Indigenous communities including improvements to drinking water.

The Alberta NDP government is dedicating $100 million over four years to improving water on First Nations reserves.

The Trudeau Liberals wants to end all boil-water orders on Canadian reserves by 2021.

Notley said the $7 billion allocated for child care spaces over 10 years will help her government expand its own program, which is in the pilot stage. She said Alberta should see about $30 to $70 million of that money this year. 

'When the rubber actually hits the road'

Notley was asked about the Saskatchewan budget, which saw the government raise the provincial sales tax by one per cent and cut the money set aside for public sector wages by 3.5 per cent.

Premier Brad Wall's government is also making cuts to post-secondary funding, libraries, and education.

Saskatchewan's provincial sales tax now also applies to children's clothing, construction services and restaurant meals.

Notley said her government chose to invest in public services and avoid salary cuts that take money out of the economy.

"When the opposition tells us that we can balance the budget and not make any changes to public services and not raise taxes, what we've said all along is that is simply not true," she said.

"What we see in Saskatchewan is what happens when the rubber actually hits the road."

Notley said she stands by her oft-repeated statement that her government will not introduce a PST in this mandate. 

"That's just not the kind of significant shift that I believe one would make without being pretty clear with voters that you're going that road," she said.