June 15th, 2024

Finance minister says UCP focused on Albertans’ priorities

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 11, 2023.

Finance minister Travis Toews speaks during a luncheon hosted by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Friday at the Sandman Signature Lodge. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Alberta finance minister Travis Toews discussed multiple topics on Friday at a luncheon hosted by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce.

The event gave Chamber members and others a chance to eat while hearing about the upcoming 2023 budget.

Toews also presented highlights from Alberta’s economic year including the labour market and jobs created. After is presentation, the minister answered questions from audience members looking to voice concerns or gain further understanding.

“We are working on the budget, we are down to the last days in terms of putting it together, and I’m looking forward to presenting it on February 28,” said Toews.

“(The UCP) are focused on the priorities of Albertans, positioning the province for competitiveness, economic growth, diversification, and fiscal responsibility.”

Alberta is projected to run a $12.3 billion surplus in the budget. “As per our mid-year fiscal update, we are projecting a very significant surplus, and that surplus will be used largely for debt reduction. This year, we are going to be paying down $13-billion of debt, all the debt that’s maturing in this fiscal year. That really matters and improves the strength of our balance sheet. It creates fiscal room,” said Toews.

“It also reduces our debt service costs, just paying down that $13 billion of debt that was maturing this year, it is going to reduce our debt service costs as a province by about $400 million a year. Those are funds that can be put back into healthcare, education, and meet Albertans priorities.”

Toews also spoke about the province’s future and the rising cost of living.

“When I talk about affordability, that will also be a priority in Budget ’23. Albertans are being pressed on every side, particularly Albertans on a fixed income. They are being pressed with these inflation pressures that are hitting them at the grocery store, when they pay bills, even when they fill up their vehicle with fuel. We have taken real action,” said Toews.

“We have taken a targeted approach to assist families, seniors and the most vulnerable with direct support,” he said noting rebates on electricity bills, part of the Electricity Rebate Program in 2022.

“We are facing some great challenges but I am incredibly optimistic about the future of this province,” said Toews.

“I believe we are really positioned to be resilient in the face of these pressures, but more importantly I believe we are positioned to take great advantage of the opportunities that await this province.”

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Southern Albertan

And was it ‘crickets’ on the proposed UCP $20 billion dollar corporate welfare royalty giveaway to the oil and gas sector to clean up their own well site messes, which, by law, they’re supposed to do anyway? The oil and gas resource and its royalties belong to Albertans. The outrage is growing.
Again, a single reason to vote for the AB NDP on May 29th. This, and much, would need to be revoked and fixed.

Les Elford

Mr. Toews
Please do your best to ensure the UCP does not; get sucked into agreeing to digital ID to get the healthcare funds. Stand strong with Scott Moe from Saskatchewan and tell JT no deal to digital ID. 

I hope all the other Premiers state the same thing.

Yes, healthcare is in critical condition and in intensive care. But there should be no strings attached, no quid – pro -co no extortion allowed in order to repair, improve and or maintain our health care system. 

If digital ID’s are approved/allowed; I fear we will lose all freedom and control to the state, and we will then become China-like with a Social -rating scale. (Feel the same way about digital currency). In essence; we will be done.

Kal Itea

“Ottawa is not coming for your personal health data”
source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-ottawa-is-not-coming-for-your-personal-health-data/

“But let’s be clear: Increases in the Canada Health Transfer are not contingent on some nefarious “digital ID.” Nor will Canadians’ personal health information be shared with politicians, bureaucrats or the public.
The tough talk from premiers Mr. Moe and Ms. Smith may play well to their bases and the far-right media, but it’s little more than tilting at windmills.
Health records now exist, in various forms, in every province – even Saskatchewan and Alberta.
In fact, Alberta has one of