Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Ottawa set to unveil budget in April; province seeking infrastructure help

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Alberta’s finance minister was direct when asked what he wants the federal government to help address in its upcoming budget.

“Our call is clear that we want help with infrastructure,” said Nathan Horner.

Horner addressed the questions after being hosted by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce to speak about the province’s recent budget.

He highlighted Alberta’s strong forecast for economic growth, increases to both education and health-care spending, plans to balance the budget and the need to recruit more workers for health care and small businesses.

“You have to try everything. We’ve been recruiting internationally,” Horner said.

“We’re committed to the supports that exist through jobs, economy and trade. We’re willing to try and find that specialized labour that small businesses need.”

The 2024 federal budget will be presented on April 16, Deputy Prime Minister and federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced on Monday.

The 2024 federal budget will provide Canadians with a full picture of the state of the country’s finances and an overall economic outlook, as well as further Liberal spending plans amid an ongoing affordability crisis.

“We don’t control the border and immigration. That’s (the federal government). We’ve seen this population surge. We’re definitely doing what we can with the people that are choosing to pick Alberta as their destination,” Horner said.

 “If we get any help from them on infrastructure, we would love to see that, especially in a way it could trickle down and help promote our municipalities because that’s where we think most of their horsepower should be put.”

According to Horner, within the province’s capital plan, vertical builds have been consistently 35 per cent higher than what was initially estimated.

He noted estimates were not as high on transportation infrastructure.

“Still at a higher-than-expected cost,” Horner said.

“It’s costing us more to build than what we’re used to, and if they wanted to help us in some way, I think that’d be the best thing.”

The chamber wants to see continued support for health care while stressing help for affordable housing and initiatives aimed at economic productivity and decreasing interprovincial trade barriers.

“We need to see continued support for affordable housing because that is absolutely critical as we continue to see people coming to the country,” said Deborah Yedlin, Calgary Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

“Let’s see some initiatives that really look to increase economic productivity and decrease interprovincial trade barriers, so that we can actually benefit as a country.”

Political commentator Scott Reid was on CTV News’ Powerplay, where he addressed the need for the federal Liberals to provide help in the short term to Canadians with the potential for an election in the next 18 months.

“They need measures that feel like they will make a difference in people’s lives right away, whether that’s more money back in your pocket or a promise of a place you can live affordably in the near term,” Reid said.

The federal government has most recently been focusing on housing and affordability while trying to reduce spending. 

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