Down on debt: Alberta reacts to budget 2018
Many people voiced concerns about accumulating provincial debt, which is expected to hit $96B by 2023
Many prominent Albertans gathered at the legislature Thursday for the unveiling of the 2018 provincial budget — and they all had something to say about it.
- Alberta's balanced budget plan relies on pipelines and debt climbing to $96B
- Four important things buried in the numbers of Alberta's 2018 budget
The NDP's budget includes money for new schools, child intervention services and two expanded social programs, but several people said it left something to be desired.
And there was one concern that many Albertans had in common: the province's accumulated debt is projected to climb to $96 billion by 2023.
Jason Kenney, United Conservative Party leader
"We already have the highest per-capita deficit of any provincial government in the country. Ontario, Quebec and other provinces have balanced their budgets through spending restraint. And so this government clearly doesn't understand the danger of debt. We've been through this in Alberta before. It's difficult to get out of a debt trap that they're dragging us deeper into."
Stephen Mandel, Alberta Party leader
Mandel highlighted how revenue from the carbon tax could be used for purposes other than funding green programs.
"[The carbon tax] could be better used to look at making revenue neutral. And use it to reduce debt, use it to compartmentalize and what the province always made cities do: if you borrow money, you have to find a way to pay it back. Rather than [what] the province is doing. They're just continuing to borrow and borrow and borrow. At the end of the day, we're going to have $100 billion in debt, and that's very scary. Every Albertan should be concerned about that."
David Khan, Alberta Liberal Party leader
"[Finance Minister Joe] Ceci is now gambling on revenue that's completely hypothetical — that he's hoping will come from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, for example — to plug this deficit hole instead of actually looking at what we have for concrete measures today to address that gap between spending and revenue."
Don Iveson, Edmonton mayor
Iveson said he's disappointed the budget doesn't detail how cannabis revenue will be shared with municipalities.
"Because [marijuana is] going to become legal some time this year, we're going to realize those costs some time this year. We can absorb a certain amount in transition, but realistically, if that's downloaded on us permanently, that's going to be politically very problematic for the province and the federal government."
Supt. John Bennet, Alberta RCMP
"We're very pleased with the funding to support our rural crime reduction initiatives. We work closely with our partners at the government. We've built a strategy around addressing and combating rural crime, and the funding coming out of the budget will be quite supportive and helpful for our program."
Jonathan Teghtmeyer, Alberta Teachers' Association
"Eighty per cent of Albertans would want to see more funding in this budget in order to bring down class sizes. So while there is money to support enrolment growth, it's not quite enough to address the classroom condition issues."