Travis Toews speaks with the media. Toronto Star photo.
Nicholas L. M. Allen
Mar 8, 2023
On March 1, Minister Travis Toews spoke with members of the media to discuss Budget 2023 and the impact it will have on Albertans.
“Our government understands the important role that [the media] and your communities have, and that is why we wanted to provide this opportunity,” said Toews.
He said there are two main themes that have been “standard” for every budget since the UCP took office, economic growth and fiscal responsibility. Part of the current government’s plans was erasing the debt they “inherited” from the previous government.
“We inherited a government that was spending close to 10 billion dollars more compared to other provinces on a per capita basis,” said Toews, “The good news is, by 2023, our current fiscal year, we’ve erased that 10-billion-dollar differential.”
Toews said another focus of the party is additional investment in the education system and additional support for Albertans. There is also an increase of new Albertans, which will require an increased level of services as a result.
“One thing that we’re seeing right across the province is an increase in net migration from Canadians choosing Alberta as their [new] home,” added Toews.
With regard to inflation, Toews said they rolled out the Affordability Action Plan, which was based on “tax relief” with the fuel tax in the province being suspended since January 1 through to the end of June. After that, the fuel tax will be tied to the price of West Texas Intermediate when it hits $80 a barrel.
The government also started a program that provides relief for student loan repayment.
“Prior to this budget, when an individual’s income hit $25,000, they were no longer eligible for their relief from repayment of student loans. We’re moving that threshold up to $40,000, recognizing that everything’s been going up. Individuals that are making less than $40,000 can use support and assistance,” said Toews.
He said they are working on “strengthening our health care system” as there is a health care challenge across the province.
“Health care is a challenge, and we’re really experiencing that challenge with respect to capacity. This isn’t so much a capacity of bricks and mortar, it’s a capacity challenge of frontline health care professionals,” said Toews.
He said a part of the UCP’s plan is to provide funding to attract foreign-trained health care professionals into the province. They will also be funding 2000 additional seats in post-secondary institutions around the province for health care professionals.
“If you live in rural Alberta, like I do, it’s important that we can attract and retain more physicians and frontline health care workers,” said Toews.
They are also making substantial investments into the Ministry of Public Safety and the Ministry of Justice to increase the level of police enforcement across the province.
“The Public Safety Minister has committed to working with municipalities to ultimately get more boots on the ground, and that will likely be in the form of provincial sheriffs,” clarified Toews.
More information on Budget 2023 is available at open.alberta.ca/publications/budget-2023.