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Mayor “not thrilled” Budget 2014 does not include local healthcare facility

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 10:33 am

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The Alberta government released its 2014/15 budget, March 6 in Edmonton, and focused its attention on building the Province’s infrastructure, increasing policing numbers and financially helping with those affected by the June 2013 floods.

No new taxes or increases were implemented, as well as no new health care facilities or new schools for Airdrie or the area were included.

“Obviously there is a lot of give- and-take in these budgets,” Mayor Peter Brown said.

“My understanding is that health care was 47 per cent of the overall budget, and were not thrilled that (Airdrie) wasn’t on the books (this year for a new health care faciltiy).”

Brown added he was disappointed the Province didn’t increase funding for FCSS (Family and Community Support Services).

The budget - comes after the Province faces a $6.2-billion loss in the renewable resources revenue due to slumping prices - but includes a $2.6-billion operational surplus and 40 new police officers throughout the province.

Doug Horner, minister of Finance, explained in his budget address that the Province is borrowing $4.3 billion to cover capital projects, a move “that (the government) isn’t hiding,” he said.

“Why spend your savings that’s earning 11 per cent interest, when you can borrow at four per cent interest,” he said.

The next phase of the Building Alberta Plan, Budget 2014 will invest $6.6 billion in 2014 and $19.2 billion over the next three years in infrastructure needed to support the province’s population growth.

According to the Opposition, Budget 2014 is the highest spending budget in Alberta’s history and represents an 8.6 per cent spending increase over Budget 2013.

“With this kind of record-breaking revenue stream, it is unconscionable that the PCs continue to plunge future generations into debt that will cripple our ability to deliver programs and services,” Anderson said.

“This year, the PCs had a genuine opportunity to balance the budget and get off the debt path. Instead, they’ve doubled down on debt and are sticking our children and grandchildren with the bill.”

Anderson explained the PC debt repayment plan stipulates $100 million a year for principal repayment.

“At that rate, it will take 220 years to repay the debt, and that’s if the PCs don’t borrow one additional penny beyond 2016,” Anderson said.

Alberta is expected to remain Canada’s fastest-growing province in 2014 and 2015, growing by about 100,000 people each year.

Budget 2014 commits funding for 155, K-12 school projects, seven post-secondary projects, 24 health facility projects, 258 kilometres of new or twinned highways and 2,500 kilometres of rehabilitated highways over the next three years.

A Rocky View Schools representative said she was “encouraged” by parts of the budget and “disappointed” by others.

“We are very disappointed that there was no increase to the per student grant rate,” said Helen Clease, Alberta School Board Association president and Rocky View School trustee.

“We are encouraged by the increase in the maintenance and repair budget for schools and the minister of education’s promise that no school board will have fewer dollars than they did last year.”

MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) funding for municipalities was reduced this year to $896 million, down from $1 billion or a total of $254 million for Calgary.

Brown said that the City of Airdrie received a boost in MSI funding this year - $46,000.

In addition, $326 million is being invested in primary health care and addiction and mental health services, $805 million for community-based health and wellness programs and enhanced home care and rehabilitation.

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