EDMONTON – Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews announced at a press conference Thursday that Alberta has a projected $12.3 billion surplus in the 2022-2023 mid-year budget. That’s much higher than the February forecast of just $511 million.
Toews said the surplus will allow the province to provide meaningful assistance to Albertans and their families so they can “keep more money in their pocket for groceries, gas, utilities and other rising costs of daily living.”
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has committed $2.4 billion in the current and next fiscal year to a series of support and inflation relief measures aimed primarily at middle- and low-income families, seniors and vulnerable people. Over the next six months, benefits of $600 will be sent to some Albertans, including families with children under 18 who earn less than $180,000, seniors and those receiving income support, severely disabled insured income and other government benefits. There will also be a six-month freeze on provincial fuel taxes.
Toews specified that the affordability relief measures will be funded from the current surplus and will not involve withdrawals from the Equity Savings Trust Fund or debt retirement plans. “Our government is the first government that is now reinvesting all the earnings from the wealth savings trust fund into the trust fund,” the minister said.
The minister suggested that if investment income had remained in the Heritage Savings Trust Fund since its inception, with no additional contributions or withdrawals, Alberta would have more than $270 billion at the end of 2019 and about $300 billion in the fund. today.
The surplus is attributed to Alberta being “an energy powerhouse,” Toews said. “Alberta continues to have economic momentum despite global uncertainty, with a projected surplus of $12.3 billion and debt repayment of $13.4 billion.”
He said the province’s total revenue forecast for this fiscal year is $76.9 billion. That will be the case even with less personal income tax collected once the system is indexed to inflation, as announced in the affordability package. More corporate income tax revenue is expected due to business growth and significant population growth.
Toews said Alberta is responsible for more than a quarter of new jobs created in Canada this year, while accounting for just 12 percent of the country’s population. The province also had the largest population growth among the four largest provinces in the first six months of 2022.
The province is seeing continued high revenues from bitumen royalties, corporate income tax and other revenue streams.
“De Havilland has announced a new aircraft manufacturing plant near Calgary and will ultimately employ more than 1,500 people. In the first half of the year alone, Alberta saw 56 deals worth $481 million in venture capital investment. The province’s agri-food sector has attracted nearly $1.5 billion in new investment and created nearly 3,000 jobs in Alberta since 2019. These successes are solidifying Alberta’s position as Canada’s economic engine,” said the minister.
And $79.8 billion will remain in taxpayer-backed debt, and the government has indicated that another $10.8 billion over the next three years will be dedicated to savings, debt reduction and the province’s future prosperity.
Toews said, “In the face of a potential global recession, Albertans can be confident that our province is in the best possible position as a result of our focus on responsible fiscal management over the past three years. By investing in savings and reducing debt to future generations, we continue to make Alberta the best place to live, work and raise a family.”