EDMONTON – Some changes Albertans will — or won’t — see because of Thursday’s budget:
Borrowing to build
The province is borrowing $4.3 billion to pay for building projects. That’s good news for many people hoping to see a new school in their neighbourhoods. Plans are for 50 new schools and improvements to 70 others. Details are expected in the weeks ahead.
It’s also good news for anyone driving to Fort McMurray. The government is going ahead with more twinning of Highway 63 between Edmonton and the oilsands capital.
Provincial Sales Tax? Not this time around
Despite repeated calls by some in the runup to the budget, there are no new taxes. There will, however, be a new monthly fee of 44 cents added to each cellphone bill to pay for 911 services. The fee to participate in the Alberta Games is also going up to $60 from $40.
Low-income seniors removed from benefits program
Eligibility requirements for a low-income seniors benefit are changing. Seniors who have lived in Canada for less than 10 years won’t be eligible.
Income exemptions for workers compensation benefits, alimony payments and Canada Pension Plan disability payments are being eliminated.
Post-secondary takes a hit
Operating grants to post-secondary institutions are being cut by nearly seven per cent to $2 billion, but the government says students shouldn’t have to pay more to make up the shortfall. Instead, it is telling institutions to refocus their dollars on what they do best.