June 25th, 2024

Government house leader discusses upcoming budget in SACPA talk

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 17, 2023.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke MLA Joseph Schow speaks at Thursday's SACPA session.

The Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs welcomed Joseph Schow, UCP MLA for Cardston-Siksika and Government House Leader, to its Thursday session at the Lethbridge Senior Citizen’s Organization.

Speaking on the topic of ‘The Fiscal Outlook for 2023, and a Recap of Years Past’, Schow gave audience members insight on the provincial budget and what to expect come the end of the month when it is released.

“Budget 2023, we are looking forward to it, it is going to be tabled on February 28 of this year. I really think you can expect a great budget that is focused on three fiscal anchors, primarily balancing the budget, keeping our net-debt to GDP ratio at 30-percent, and bring our spending per capital out of the jurisdictions,” said Schow.

“Through good fiscal management, we have been able to come out of the pandemic very strong, and (are) looking forward to leading the country in economic recovery, according to a number of financial institutions.

With Albertans heading to the polls on May 29, Budget 2023 will be closely examined by all campaigning parties.

“The main message of the budget is our plan is working. We have come out of COVID strong as a province. Not only because of the price of oil, but also because of our strong fiscal management of the province’s books,” said Schow.

“We are seeing fantastic migration into the province, jobs are being created by the private sector industry. It is a great time to be in Alberta.”

Speaking to SACPA audience members, Schow noted Alberta’s economic momentum when facing the prospects of a global recession, mentioning the employment growth seen in the province, such as at Southland Trailers, and PiP International.

“With one of the most highly competitive corporate income tax systems in North America, Alberta’s economy is rapidly diversifying in sectors such as aviation, technology, finance and other remerging industries,” said Schow.

One individual asked during the Q & A portion a question regarding money that the government may be planning to put into cleanup around abandoned and orphaned wells in Alberta.

“That actually hits very close to my own constituency because there are a lot of orphan wells in Cardston-Siksika. No final decisions on this have been made. The reality is we are consulting because a lot of these orphan wells predate 1980, so they have changed hands a number of times, the ownership. We as a government have to find a way to get these cleaned up, but we are still consulting to find that way and make it happen,” said Schow.

“I have spoken to a number of farmers who have orphan wells on their property, and they are not receiving any compensation from the companies anymore. Back then there wasn’t a lot of foresight, and so we are now left with this problem looking for the most effective and efficient way to clean it up.”

Schow spoke on current hot topics in Alberta, including healthcare.

“Budget 2023 will also continue to transform, reform, and strengthen the healthcare system through Alberta’s Healthcare Action Plan. We have heard the cries for help, especially in rural regions, when it comes to EMS service and doctor shortages,” said Schow.

“The urgent reforms are focused on reducing the wait times in emergency rooms, improving EMS response time by getting more ambulances on the road, empowering paramedics in the field to make decisions on the sport, offering thousands more surgeries in underutilized rural operating rooms and chartered surgical facilities, and restoring decision making to the local level.”

Giving insight to the upcoming Budget 2023, Schow’s talk helped shed light on the horizon.

“All of these announcements show that this government is working hard to make life better for our burdens,” said Schow. “I am looking forward to sharing this with you and what that will look like through Budget ’23 in the next few short weeks.”

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