The Alberta Government released its 2018 budget on Thursday afternoon, March 22 in Edmonton and while much reaction from opposition politicians and media pundits has been negative, there is some good news for municipalities like Drumheller. The Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) Grants will go on for another year.
"We kept 340 municipalities whole," noted Municipal Affairs Minister Shea Anderson. "Edmonton and Calgary came down a little bit, but they also have some commitments for some long term transit funding and some things, so I was really happy about that."
MSI was developed by the previous Conservative Government to provide money for infrastructure, but it was originally planned to be a temporary measure.
"One of my promises to them (municipalities) was to make sure that I get something put into legislation that they know that it's permanent and stable and long term, and they know they have that funding," Anderson continued.
The new budget projects a deficit if $8.8 billion, with the overall provincial government debt forecast to reach $96 billion by 2023, up from $54 billion this year.
"Our debt to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio is the lowest in Canada (and) we're the fastest growing economy in Canada," argued Anderson. "One of the things that Albertans wanted was to protect front line services, education and health care. It's tough when you're building a budget, you try to listen to all sides, but what Albertans wanted was for us to make sure we take care of them and that's what the government is here for."