In its second provincial budget, the United Conservative government stuck to its plan to reduce spending and create jobs, while stressing its case to the federal government for a “Fair Deal for Alberta.”
Budget 2020 cuts operating expenses by about 2.5 per cent over three years. Alberta is left with an overall debt of just under $88 billion by 2022.
Here’s a look at how some of the changes (and previously announced budget decisions) affect rural Albertans and smaller municipalities:
The UCP previously announced changes to how policing is funded in Alberta municipalities with populations smaller than 5,000. While the largest cities rely on municipal police forces, the rest of the province relies on RCMP. Larger municipalities have already been paying for policing.
Budget 2020 implements a new funding model that sees small and rural communities pay a portion of their policing costs.
Over five years, the new system will add 300 more officers and 200 civilian members. The cost of $286 million will be paid for by smaller municipalities, which can expect to shoulder about $22 million this year.
Victims of Crime
The justice ministry will expand the Victims of Crime Fund to include “public safety priorities” with an additional $17 million this year. A ministry spokesperson said details are still being worked out on this initiative and stakeholders will be consulted but that it would focus on preventing people from being victimized by crime. It will include crime-prevention and enforcement projects. The budget says the fund’s financial benefits program will be replaced with a service-based program, but provides no specifics.
READ MORE: Highlights from Alberta budget 2020
QEII and 40 Avenue Interim Ramp (near Airdrie)
A new road project included in the budget will see $10 million spent on an interim ramp on Highway 2 and 40 Avenue near Airdrie. The money will be spent over this fiscal year and next.
School boards’ ‘own-source/reserve’ funds
Budget 2020 ups education spending by $100 million this school year, but the increase comes from school boards’ “own-source/reserve” funding. The government said that could include school fees, facility rentals, other sources and savings.
“School jurisdictions use their own-source revenue and reserves as the government transitions to a new K-12 Funding and Assurance Model to better manage system growth, ensure funds are directed to the classroom, and provide all jurisdictions with sustainable and predictable funding.”
No details were provided on the new model.