Alex Antoneshyn
CTVNewsEdmontonca Digital Journalist

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Dan Grummett
CTV News Edmonton

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EDMONTON –
After years of reliance on future pipeline revenues, the global pandemic banks’ first budget for mass vaccination was Alberta, fueling an economic recovery

As Prime Minister Jason Kenney has promised, there are no new taxes.Instead, the latest budget shows Alberta is having to borrow from a pandemic

“It’s a plan for Alberta to get out of its current crisis by focusing on what matters most,” said Treasury Secretary Travis Toews

While the 2021 budget spends a record high on health care and allocates dollars to COVID-19 response and recovery, Kenney’s United Conservative Administration continues to focus on spending in other countries, particularly the public sector

As long as COVID-19 continues to weigh on the local and global economies, Alberta is scrapping all hopes for a balanced budget

The province’s deficit is $ 182 billion, an increase of about $ 3 billion from the previous projection, largely due to the cost of the COVID-19 response, Toews said a way to balance the budget will be shown after the pandemic ends / p>

Alberta’s total debt has risen to $ 1158 billion, with taxpayers hitting a record $ 2 billion in annual debt service costs. Debt is projected to climb to $ 1325 billion by 2023-24

The introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine plays a big role in Alberta’s forecast that the economy will recover in the second half of the year

Budget 2021 projects where some public health action is still in place, but the roll-out of vaccines in late summer and early fall will reduce unemployment, restore confidence in consumer spending, reduce unemployment in the commercial and construction industries, and the Housing market is going to be a strong year After a decline of more than seven percent last year, real GDP is expected to grow 48 percent in 2021

The document also includes “low” and “high” scenarios that shift projections based on various factors such as COVID-19 variants, vaccine supply and effectiveness, and oil prices

The “low” scenario assumes that vaccine distribution will be delayed by a year, resulting in lower oil prices and hence lower resource revenues, increasing the deficit to $ 201 billion in 2021-22 and reducing projected real GDP -Growth to two percent

A “high” scenario assumes that vaccine rollouts are more effective than expected and accelerate economic recovery.The revised projected deficit in this scenario is $ 154 billion in 2021-22, increasing projected real GDP growth to 75 Percent

The province is increasing its health budget by around $ 900 million to a total of $ 214 billion for 2021-22 – excluding a portion dedicated to COVID-19 expenses for contingencies

Health is once again the largest spending in the budget, marking itself out as “protecting life and livelihoods” while positioning the province for a modest economic recovery

No more dollars will be allocated for the next two years as Alberta Health Services – which is expected to receive $ 16 billion this year – continues with cost savings suggested in a 2020 review of the agency’s operations

Nursing homes and similar nursing homes will have an additional $ 200 million this year for a total of $ 3 5 billion budget Mental health and addiction will also increase by $ 140 million in four years

Separate from the health budget, an additional US $ 1 25 billion is specifically earmarked for COVID-19 costs: expanding the capacity of the health system, personal protective equipment, vaccine delivery, and tracking and checking of contacts

The government estimates it spent $ 1.5 billion on COVID-19 last year, including worker critical benefits for AHS employees, and contact tracking and testing, and another $ 530 million was spent on PPE

Several new facilities or upgrades are planned: a new $ 35 million maternity and community health center in La Crete, a $ 23 million contribution to renovate Foothills’ NICU unit in Calgary, and a commitment in $ 59 million move to Rockyview General Hospital intensive, coronary, and gastrointestinal units

The 2021 budget promotes the government’s mission to reduce the size and costs of Alberta’s public sector

Toews put it this way: “We are not on our way to cutting costs We are on our way to deliver government services most efficiently”

Both the document and the Treasury Secretary used the term “right sizing” to describe the billion dollar reduction in compensatory spending in the province that will affect healthcare workers, teachers and civil servants

The 2021 budget also lists the loss of at least 311 full-time public sector jobs in various government departments, some of which have already occurred

Toews hasn’t specified exactly who the changes will affect, but said the government is aiming to cut civil services by a little less than eight percent

“Only minimal adjustments need to be made The vast majority of changes can be made at this point through abrasion

“Right now we are on track with Alberta public services and our plans to properly size the public sector”

Public sector compensation accounts for 54 percent of operating costs at $ 26 billion, including $ 21 billion in wages, salaries, and employee benefits

After a significant overestimation of oil prices in the 2020 budget, partly due to the collapse in global commodity prices at the start of the pandemic, the 2021 budget has much more conservative projections

The outlook assumes that the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) will average $ 46 per barrel (/ bbl) in 2021-22 and rise to $ 56 / bbl by 2023-24

A year ago economists criticized the government’s forecast that WTI would average $ 58 per barrel for 2020-21, an overestimation of more than 47 percent (the actual price was $ 39 (40 / bbl)

“I would like to be surprised with much higher energy prices than we predict, but I think the prudent and responsible approach is to be conservative in our forecasts,” said Toews

Nonrenewable resources account for about 6.5 percent of total sales and are down nearly $ 29 billion from previous three-year projections

As in previous budgets, pipeline revenue is expected to increase in the future, namely Enbridge’s Line 3 and the TransMountain pipeline expansion, which is expected to be in late 2021 and 2021 respectively Will be completed in 2022

Noticeably absent is the KeystoneXL pipeline extension, which was scrapped by the S. Biden administration in January

“We have been transparent about our exposure to Alberta on this budget, and that is $ 1″3 billion on our tax scale,” said Toews

Bitumen royalties and income taxes should help total sales grow by an average of $ 7.9 billion per year to $ 509 billion by 2023-24

The government says an additional $ 88 million allocated to K-12 schools in the 2021 budget should account for the cost of a safe return to classrooms amid COVID-19 and critical benefits for workers in the education system overall $ 8 In the years 2021-22, 2 million euros will be spent on primary education – as well as in the following two years

Last year a move was made towards a funding model for allocating funds on a three-year weighted average and not credited per student – criticized by some as insufficient – as schools did not see a “significant reduction in funds” due to lower enrollments during the year Pandemic

Post-secondary education budget has been cut again, this year by $ 82 million, Alberta says 36, according to a government-ordered review to determine the effectiveness of their post-secondary education$ 500 per student for post-secondary education, more than 5000 USD more than B.C. and 15000 dollars more than Ontario

“We understand that a huge deficit is not sustainable, but the cut in post-secondary education, which is a key driver of our future growth, doesn’t make this problem any better in the long run,” said Rowan Ley, chairman of the Alberta Council University students said “This is a disappointment to all of us who understand the role of post-secondary students in building Alberta’s economic future”

In the next two years, post-secondary education will increase slightly in the tens of millions. All 26 publicly funded post-secondary institutions are also to be switched to a performance-based funding model

Budget for Alberta 2021, Budget for Alberta

World News – CA – Budget for Alberta 2021: Economic recovery depends on COVID-19 vaccine and oil prices

Source: https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/alberta-budget-2021-economic-recovery-hinges-on-covid-19-vaccine-oil-prices-1.5323776