Alberta budget: What’s in it for Calgary?

CALGARY – The NDP government released the 2015-2016 Alberta budget Tuesday afternoon. Here are some of the highlights for Calgarians.

Hospitals and health care funding

The NDP government confirmed its promise to fund the Calgary cancer centre, but the $830 million set aside falls $470,000 short of the initial estimated cost of $1.3 billion. However, it’s a price tag that current Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said might be exaggerated.

Hoffman said in July she weighed all options and decided Foothills Medical Centre was the best site at which to build the cancer centre. She said she thinks it’s possible to build the centre for less than the $1.3 billion originally budgeted when the project was announced by Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservative government two years ago.

Foothills Medical Centre will also see $48 million (separate from the cancer centre) over the next five years. Alberta Health said this money is for renovations to the existing hospital set to be completed in Jan. 2018, and came about because of program changes following the McCaig Tower opening.

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READ MORE: New taxes and benefits – Alberta budget 2015 highlights

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WATCH: Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci announces various major projects for Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and High River.

Calgary ring road

The Calgary and Edmonton ring roads will get $2.9 billion over the next five years, but the province declined to break down the costs any further.

Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation said disclosing the cost of the Calgary ring road specifically would affect the procurement process. The province is still working with three bidders to finalize a successful bidder, expected to be announced next year.

The government said the northeast Henday in Edmonton is scheduled to be done in 2016, completing the city’s ring road, so the spending beyond 2016-17 is entirely for Calgary’s ring road, set to be completed in 2022.

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Education funding

Two of Calgary’s schools will receive funding: the Mount Royal University Library and Learning Centre will see $72 million over the next two years and the University of Calgary Schulich School of Engineering will see $105 million over the next three years.

Calgary Young Offenders Centre

As the NDP previously announced, the PC government’s planned closure of the Calgary Young Offenders Centre has been halted. Tuesday’s budget includes $267 million for Correctional Services, with funding to operate the Calgary Young Offenders Centre, and $66 million in Support for Legal Aid.

Flood recovery

Flood recovery and mitigation projects have been allocated $926 million over the next five years, with $100 million in new funding for the Elbow River mitigation projects. It wasn’t immediately clear if this funding was in addition to Monday’s announcement of $297 million for flood protection measures along the Elbow River.

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