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Environmental and infrastructure spending in Alberta budget

The Alberta government's 2012 Budget which was announced last week included increased investment in environmental programs. Among them is $11 million for a new "world-class" environmental monitoring and reporting system to be initially applied...


The Alberta government’s 2012 Budget which was announced last week included increased investment in environmental programs. Among them is $11 million for a new “world-class” environmental monitoring and reporting system to be initially applied to the Lower Athabasca Region, home of oil sands development.
Other new investments in environmental programs include $444 million for bioenergy initiatives, $145 million for the Water for Life strategy and $70 million for greening energy production and other adaptations through the Climate Change and Emissions Management fund.

The province’s investments in public infrastructure for the next three years is budgeted at $16.5 billion — i.e. $5.5 billion per year.

The 2012-15 budget is slightly lower than the 2011 capital budget, which was $17.6 billion over three years. However, Alberta is one of the best positioned provinces in the country, with economic growth forecast to be 3.8% in 2012 — almost double the anticipated growth for the entire country and the United States. The $16.5 billion includes $3.5 billion for highways, $2.6 billion for health facilities and equipment, $1 billion for schools, and $300 million for housing programs.

The reduction in the capital budget, said a spokesperson at Alberta Finance, is partly because some major projects will be completed this year, including two large hospitals: the Edmonton Clinic South and the South Calgary Health Campus. Projects still underway include ring roads around the two major cities: the Northeast Anthony Henday Drive in Edmonton, and the Southeast Stoney Trail in Calgary.

In total the province budgeted for 2012 an increase in revenues of $1.8 billion to $40.3 billion, and an increase in expenses of $1.3 billion to $41.1 billion. There will be no new taxes or increased tax rates.

A breakdown of the province’s capital plan for 2012-2015 shows that almost 40% will be spent on support for municipal infrastructure, over 21% will go for provincial highways, and over 15% will go to health facilities and equipment. The province has also invested heavily in K-12 schools, increasing its investment by 62% over the past 10 years.

The province has a deficit of $886 million in 2012, and expects to follow this by surpluses in future years.