Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Highlights of the Alberta Budget

The Alberta Budget (2015)

Feels a little like Alberta right now hey? We voted in the NDP's with an overwhelming majority and now that they're taking action we're all freaking out a little. 

As I'm sure you all know the government put forward their budget for Alberta yesterday and there has been some serious debate. They are basically looking at running pretty massive deficits over the next couple of years with the first surplus not coming until 2020. That's scary, I get it. However, I also get that the economy in Alberta sucks right now because of the decline in oil prices but at the same time we have social programs that are struggling and need money. I for one am not ok with the government further sacrificing our education and healthcare needs to keep the province out of debt. 

Let's take a quick look at some of the main points of the plan: 

1. Individual and corporate taxation: farewell to the flat 10% tax rate for all Albertans. Those earning over $125,000 will now see their taxes increase for this year and again for next year (see rates listed below) and the corporate tax rate was increased from 10% to 12% (as of July 1, 2015). 

2. Sin Taxes: the markup on liquor will increase by 5% and a carton of tobacco will go up by $5. I have no problem with this (probably because I don't smoke and am not a big drinker) and still wont cover the huge cost to the healthcare system that heavy users bring about. 

3. Healthcare: increase spending by 4% in 2016 with additional money going to support long term care facilities, home care and mental health services. I'm good with this one. With our aging population there is really no way out of spending more money on healthcare and I like their goal of expanding home care. 

4. Education: reverse the 3% decrease of funding that was put in by the PC party. I don't have kids yet but I'm sure I will one day and it's so important to ensure they have access to good education and safe schools. This will allow the province to hire almost 400 new teachers to help prevent class sizes from getting even larger.

5. New job creation program: they will give an incentive of $5,000 to employers for each new employee they hire. This one I'm not sold on, sure it's a perk if you have to hire someone but I don't see a company going out of it's way to add staff that they'll have to pay (let's say $50,000/yr) just to get $5,000.

6. Infrastructure: increase infrastructure spending by 15% to improve roads, schools and hospitals. This plan is similar to Trudeau's federal plan, and is based on advice from Dave Hodge (former Bank of Canada governor) that you should spend during bad times and save during good. I ultimately do agree with this but worry we might be spending TOO much. 

Those are the key points I took out of the budget and my opinions on it, what are you guys thinking? 

The Alberta Budget (2015)


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