2015-18 Fiscal Plan - COMPLETE VOLUME (Alberta Budget 2015 - October)

Alberta’s NDP tables record $6.1-billion deficit

Real estate group applauds exclusion of land transfer tax

The Alberta NDP plan to run a $6.1-billion deficit in 2015-2016, the largest in more than two decades, fueled primarily by increased infrastructure spending and the province’s contracting economy.

In its provincial budget, released Tuesday, Finance Minister Joe Ceci also announced plans to borrow $712 million next year, which ends a nearly 20-year run of debt-free operations.

“This is the right budget for the right time,” said Ceci, noting the party promises a return to balance by 2019-20.

Overall, Rachel Notley’s government plans to increase infrastructure spending by 15 per cent to $34 billion over the next five years, as well as $178 million over two years to support 27,000 jobs with a new grant program

The governing NDP’s expect Alberta’s economy to contract by one per cent in 2015-16. It also says revenues have fallen by $5.7 billion, largely due to a decline in energy royalties.

The Alberta Real Estate Association applauded the budget more for what it didn’t include as much as what it did.

The organization, which represents 10,000 real estate professionals across the province, noted the budget kept home ownership as “affordable as possible for Albertans by avoiding the creation of a land transfer tax.

Land transfer taxes are taxes paid to municipalities or the province when a property is sold, and cannot be added to a buyer’s mortgage, therefore requiring payment upfront when the transfer is registered.

By avoiding the creation of such taxes in Alberta, AREA said the NDP government has taken an important steps toward ensuring every Albertan has the best opportunity possible to one day afford their own home.

“Today’s budget announcement was positive,” said AREA CEO Ian Burns. “The budget demonstrates the province’s commitment to affordable home ownership.”

AREA also said it is encouraged by government announcements of an intent to return to a balanced budget scenario as soon as possible.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was not surprised with the NDP’s budget, but was disappointed that it did not more specifically address affordable housing needs.

“There are no real surprises in this budget since much of it has been hinted at through election promises and recent announcements,” he said in a statement. “We are, of course, pleased at the significant increases in infrastructure funding and we look forward to working with the government to advance important capital projects for Calgarians.

“We remain disappointed that there is little in this budget with respect to affordable housing — which is a provincial responsibility — but we hope this will be addressed in the March 2016 budget.”

 

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