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Health, education, disaster planning: Highlights of Alberta’s latest budget

EDMONTON — Alberta’s budget for 2024-25 foresees a slim $367 million surplus, with slightly lower revenues compared to last year’s estimated top line. 

Here is where some of the funds in this year’s restrained provincial budget are being spent:

Health Care 

Health care is getting one of the biggest spending boosts, with an operating budget of $26.2 billion. That’s an increase of $1.1 billion, or 4.4 per cent, from the previous year’s forecast. As the United Conservative Party government looks to overhaul health service delivery in the province, it’s putting aside $475 million to shore up primary care. 

Education

Education is also getting a 4.4 per cent increase, with operating expenses up $393 million to $9.3 billion. About $680 million in new capital funding is to go toward 43 school projects to create 35,000 new and modernized student spaces. Over the next three years, $24 million is being set aside to fund growth for new private schools and early childhood services operators, “increasing the province’s support for parental choice in education.”

Disaster planning

The budget includes a $2 billion contingency for emergencies, about a third less than what is estimated to have been spent last year, when many communities in the province dealt with wildfires and other disasters. The province is setting aside $151 million in operating funds over the next three years to enhance its Wildfire Management Program and is spending $55 million in capital for new firefighting equipment and facilities. There’s also $1.3 billion in capital funding for water management and drought preparedness over the next three years.

Tackling Crime

In Public Safety and Emergency Service’s $1.2-billion operating budget, $10 million is to go toward adding 100 street-level police officers for high-crime areas in Calgary and Edmonton. There’s also an $85-million operating expense for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence program, an increase of $5 million from last year’s estimated spend. The province has earmarked $49 million in capital funding over three years for equipment and facilities to support first responders and sheriffs. 

Bolstering the provincial nest egg

The province plans to put $2 billion in extra cash into its Heritage Savings Trust Fund, bringing its value to $25 billion. Finance Minister Nate Horner says the government aims to reveal a long-term plan later this year to grow the fund to between $250 billion and $400 billion by 2050. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2024. 

The Canadian Press


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