Budget 2017-18 holds the line on spending as Alberta enters the third year of economic downturn. The budget maintains spending on front-line public services, which is consistent with what the government had signaled leading up to yesterday’s release.
Overall, this budget has a stabilizing effect on Alberta’s nonprofit sector, as other sources of revenue are in decline. Most new spending is tied directly to capital investment or election promises, such as those pertaining to climate change and income inequality.
The 2016-17 budget is, by and large, what was signalled by the Government over the past weeks. While it is consistent with election promises, the drastic fall in oil prices has slowed implementation in several areas.
The provincial budget released on October 27 is not transformational; rather, it is transitional. It maintains service levels in a lagging economy, and includes a number of targeted investments and initiatives that are consistent with campaign promises. It signals shifting priorities and suggests a larger transformation may be reflected in the spring budget.
Today’s provincial budget reflects priorities outlined in the NDP election platform and demonstrates the government’s commitment to preserving public programs and services. Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) President and CEO Katherine van Kooy notes that “the priorities laid out in this budget reflect an understanding of the importance of maintaining community services during times of economic hardship and strengthening programs for Alberta’s most vulnerable.”
On December 15, the Alberta Government issued a press release outlining steps that will be taken to control spending through the remainder of this fiscal year through cost containment measures.
The release states that lowered resource revenues and expanding populations pose “unique challenges” for Alberta.
There is nothing unique about the current provincial economic circumstances.
Dear Premier Prentice:
On behalf of the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO), I am writing you regarding the provincial fiscal situation and messaging from the Province about cost containment measures in the current fiscal year and in budget 2015-16.
We are very concerned about the potential for monetary decisions to compromise the nonprofit sector’s ability to sustain services it provides to communities. CCVO urges the Province to consider the impact of its budgetary decision-making on Alberta’s nonprofit sector. Additionally, we cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that Government facilitate a meaningful conversation with Albertans about the best way to stabilize provincial finances.
On March 7, the Government of Alberta released a budget that holds overall operational spending at $36.4 billion, the same level as last year. It forecasts an operational deficit of $451 million before an additional $5.2 billion in capital spending. While some of the implications of this year’s budget for Alberta’s nonprofit sector are immediately apparent, others will come into clearer focus in the months ahead.
Over the past several months, we have seen the emergence of a difficult and long overdue conversation about how we finance the services that Albertans need and expect. Debate about tax options, expenditure controls and the level of services required to meet the needs of a growing population and a strong economy is healthy in a democratic society, but following the government’s release of the 2012-13 third-quarter fiscal report, now projecting a deficit between 3.5 and 4 billion dollars, the public discussion has been dominated by voices such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Fraser Institute and others who see expenditure reduction as the only solution.
On February 9, the Government of Alberta released what has been widely interpreted as a stay-the course, pre-election budget. Budget 2012 does signal some new directions, however, these will not be implemented prior to the election.
This Pre-Budget submission by CCVO, ECVO, Volunteer Alberta and The Muttart Foundation called for the Provincial government to maintain funding levels for community based organizations, earmark infrastructure spending for community projects, continue to support programs and policies that stimulate charitable giving and continue to support the Alberta Voluntary/Nonprofit Sector Initiative (ANVSI)