Budget 2021 delivers on short- and medium-term business needs, bolder strategy needed for long-term growth and competitiveness
Calgary, February 25, 2021 – The provincial budget, tabled today by Finance Minister Travis Toews, displays the severe hit our economy took over the past year, and simultaneously the need for bold thinking as we chart our path towards a full, inclusive recovery. In fiscal year 2021-22, the provincial deficit is expected to hit $18.2 billion and the total debt to reach $115.8 billion.
“COVID-19 remains a threat to the health of our communities and our businesses, and we were encouraged to see short-and-medium term measures to address this reality,” says Murray Sigler, interim CEO of the Calgary Chamber. “But with vaccines rolling out and the acceleration of the future economy, we must also look towards Alberta’s long-term growth and competitiveness.”
Several initiatives outlined today reflect the Chamber’s key recommendations, and meet the short- and medium-term needs of businesses:
Adopting a balanced approach that prioritizes necessary health spending and fiscal restraint, all without imposing new taxes and maintaining essential services;
$3.1 billion funding commitment to sector strategies, which recognizes the unique experience and recovery needs of Alberta’s key industries, both traditional and emerging;
$136 million for the Alberta Jobs Now Program, which supports and incentivizes business to scale up and upskill their workforce;
Increased investment for Alberta Innovates and through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) program, which will support Alberta’s competitiveness in the low-carbon economy;
$500 million contingency plan for COVID-19, which will allow government to respond to the needs of the business community with agility should we experience setbacks on our road to recovery from this pandemic; and
A continued focus on key fiscal anchors over the long term, including Alberta’s debt-to-GDP ratio and reducing expenditures where possible.
However, we have a unique opportunity to forge a more innovative and sustainable future for our province. We urge stronger action on:
Aggressive removal of internal trade barriers and regulatory duplication, which are inexpensive ways to support business recovery and stimulate economic growth;
Stronger focus on social infrastructure funding – such as affordable housing – to ensure that capital spending creates community, connection, and inclusion – in addition to jobs;
A continued and reinvigorated focus to improve and increase funding for Alberta’s childcare system, to facilitate a more even recovery and grow economic participation by women and parents; and
Faster movement on a review of all viable sources of revenue for the government, and a proactive reimagination of our fiscal future to ensure long-term sustainability.
We look forward to virtually hosting the Honourable Travis Toews, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, for Budget 2021 with Calgary’s business community. The event is taking place tomorrow at 9:30am and registration is open at https://www.calgarychamber.com/events.
Calgary’s business community stands ready to work with the Government of Alberta to ensure that we can springboard to a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive future for every Albertan.
About the Calgary Chamber
The Calgary Chamber is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan business organization. For 130 years, the Chamber has worked to build a business community that nourishes, powers, and inspires the world.