President of Treasury Board and Finance Minister, Joe Ceci, delivered the 2017 Alberta budget on March 16, 2017. This year’s budget focused on three key priorities: reducing the cost of living for Albertans; creating jobs and diversifying the economy; and improving access to health, education and government services for residents of the province. The budget projects total spending of $54.9 billion, with a deficit of $10.3 billion.
Other interesting highlights from today’s budget include: removing certain fees related to essential public education access, such as transportation fees; capping electricity prices at 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour; and reducing energy bills impacted by the newly introduced carbon levy through rebates for low and middle-income Albertans.
No new tax increases or levies were announced, and Alberta continues to have no sales tax, payroll tax, or health-care premiums.
The budget affirms the government’s commitment from last year’s budget to raise the carbon levy from $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (as introduced in 2017) to $30 per tonne in 2018. This carbon levy is expected to generate almost $3.9 billion in revenue over the next three years, over 50% of which will be used to fund small business tax reductions and household rebates, with the remainder earmarked for investments to reduce emissions and help diversify Alberta’s economy.
The province also announced impending changes to the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER) for large industrial remitters. The government plans to replace existing facility-specific emissions targets with an “output based allocation approach using product level standards” beginning in 2018. However, the budget documents also note that consultations regarding these changes are ongoing.
The budget also announced that the education property tax rates assessed on residences and farms will remain at $2.48 per $1000 of equalized assessment, and that the non-residential rate will remain at $3.64 per $1000.
Further information on Alberta's 2017 budget may be found on the province's web site at: https://www.alberta.ca/budget.aspx