The Release of the 2022 Alberta Budget gives insight into Grande Prairie’s fiscal future

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Last week on Thursday Travis Toews, Albertan Minister of Finance tabled the provincial budget, which shows marked improvement from the previous fiscal year, despite pandemic woes, including off and on-again shutdowns and supply chain issues. After the budgetary announcements were made Jackie Clayton, Mayor of the City of Grande Prairie says, “there are reasons for optimism for locals as we look ahead.” The estimated value of the budget is $62.6 billion.

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Originally, the government predicted a covid-related recession, with a $3.2 billion deficit being projected back in 2021. However, Finance Minister Toews stated that the increased revenue from the oil and gas sector will probably result in a budget surplus for Alberta over the next three years, amounting to a $511 million dollar surplus. Happy from Alberta’s positive fiscal outlook Toews made a statement to the Legislative Assembly, saying, “Behind every dollar, we save stand our grandchildren, from carrying the burden of a debt they did not incur.” Overall, Alberta’s 2022 provincial budget marked the first balanced budget in over eight years, with it being valued at roughly $62.6 billion.

Reacting to the good news, Jackie Clayton said, “The budget announced on Thursday had a lot of positive aspects to it. It was great to hear the information from Minister Toews. Getting Albertans back to work was a there’s optimism from the Minister on that front as well as a few others.”

Due to the budget surplus the province announced several increases to public spending, primarily health care and infrastructure. For provincial health care the budget included roughly an additional $15 billion being allocated towards Alberta Health Services, with $750 million of that being contingency funding for Covid-19 related issues, as well as $20 million more for mental health care. Regarding infrastructure, the budget also allocated $282 million towards clean water and waste projects and a $722 million investment into the Local Government Fiscal Framework, which is replacing the old Municipal Sustainability Initiative.

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Locally, the province’s renewed effort into funding infrastructure will include a $37 million annual investment towards agricultural research and investments. This will help add jobs to the community even though Grade Prairie has the lowest unemployment rate in the province at 5.3 per cent as of January. Mayor Clayton also said, “The support of the federal and provincial government allowed us to work on some projects that were further up in the queue ahead of schedule. We were able to add some additional amenities to our city, such as the Activity and Reception Centre, additional bike park, as well as improving our trails and network system.”

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