February 26, 2021
Alberta 2021 budget boosts health care and infrastructure spending to fight pandemic, prepare for recovery
The Alberta government budget for 2021 is firmly focused on helping the province successfully emerge from the pandemic with a $1.25-billion COVID-19 contingency fund, a $1.7-billion increase in capital funding and no new taxes or tax increases.
Finance Minister Travis Toews said ongoing vaccination efforts are providing hope but “we have several hard months still ahead . . . [and] Alberta’s government will remain nimble to respond to emerging needs.”
The contingency will help address health-care costs arising from the pandemic, including surgical wait times and backlogs. Separate from these funds, Alberta is also increasing its overall health-care budget by $900 million to $23 billion.
Total provincial revenue is estimated at $43.7 billion for 2021-2022 with a deficit of $18.2 billion — $2 billion less than the 2020-21 forecast.
Toews said Premier Jason Kenney’s government remains committed to delivering a balanced budget but said the pandemic and the resulting economic realities will delay timing. Deficits of $11 billion and $8 billion are targeted for 2022-23 and 2023-24 respectively.
The province’s economic outlook has also slightly improved compared to previous reports, thanks to rapid vaccine development, higher oil prices and slightly better 2019 ‘actuals’ than expected.
The budget said Alberta’s economy is now expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2022, one year earlier than expected at mid-year.
Alberta’s 2021 Capital Plan invests $20.7 billion over three years — an increase of $1.7 billion in 2021-22 from Budget 2020 to help shovel-ready projects get off the ground and Albertans back to work.
The plan includes new funding for 41 projects totalling $825.8 million over three years, including:
• $288 million for education projects, including 14 school projects and an increase to the modular classroom program ($60 million);
• $143 million for five health projects, including the La Crete Maternity and Community Health Centre ($35 million);
• $177 million for transportation projects, including $126 million in new funding for the La Crete Bridge and $51 million for P3 Ring Road Rehabilitation in Calgary and Edmonton;
• $48.7 million for environment and parks capital projects, including David Thompson Corridor upgrades, flood mitigation and watercourse and watershed resiliency projects; and
• $57.3 million for a new Court of Appeal building in Calgary
The plan also includes $3 billion for capital maintenance and renewal of existing buildings, roads, bridges and more.
The full Alberta 2021 budget documents can be accessed here