Two years ago, Michael Whidden and his wife adjusted their household budget so he could stay home to raise their daughter Camille.
“We had money saved up so we’re getting by without issue,” Whidden said. His wife brings home between $80,000 and 100,000 as a physician and the family predominantly uses public transit to get around.
“We don’t live beyond our means.”
But that’s not the case for the Alberta Government. In Budget 2017, it is stretching far beyond its means to build infrastructure and offer families’ practical savings.
“They want us to make things more affordable and bring the deficit down, thoughtfully and prudently,” Finance Minister Joe Ceci said in his budget address.
Here’s how the Province plans to do it:
Cut school fees by 25 per cent: As reported March 2, fees that are core to public education, such as instructional supplies and transportation for eligible students, will be eliminated.
Cap on electricity rates: By setting a rate cap of 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour, the government aims to ensure “stable and affordable electricity prices over the next four years.”
Tuition fees remain frozen: This applies for post-secondary institutions for a third year.
Alberta Child Benefit: The government has earmarked $174 million in 2017-18 for the Alberta Child Benefit. Alberta’s most vulnerable families will be able to access up to $2,785 each year.
The Alberta Government doesn’t anticipate balancing the budget until about 2024. By then, Michael Whidden’s daughter will be 10 years old – and it doesn’t bother him.
“I don’t necessarily think that message applies that simplistically to the government right now. I think if interest rates are low and we can borrow, we can repay that when the economy is doing better.”