Infrastructure Spending Meant to Stimulate Economic Growth

March 17, 2017


Alberta Budget 2017

Continuing the trend begun in 2016, infrastructure investment is a significant component of the Alberta government’s 2017 budget. Details of the budget, announced on March 16, 2017, include spending of $29.5 billion in infrastructure projects over a four-year period as a method of stimulating economic growth and fuelling job creation. 

Total announced infrastructure spending accounts for an additional $1.4 billion over the investments in the 2016 budget.

Municipal infrastructure support accounts for 26% of the total value, or $7.6 billion, with the largest amounts earmarked for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) and the Ministry of Transportation’s GreenTRIP transit program. Capital maintenance and renewal projects for public facilities account for $4.7 billion in spending, with large amounts set aside for roads, schools, and other public properties.

Focus on New Facilities Construction

Significant capital investment is provided to support construction of a number of new facilities in communities across the province. Larger projects include: a hospital in Edmonton ($400 million), starting in 2018-2019; a continuing care facility in Calgary ($131 million); and Justice Centre in Red Deer ($97 million). Funding for long-term care facilities, seniors’ complexes, affordable housing projects and more is also included.

Additional Spending Areas

Other programs and initiatives mentioned include:

  • Health care: $4.5 billion is invested over four years in health-related infrastructure. In addition to a number of new facilities, funding is provided to support modernization projects and emergency room renovations in Misericordia Community Hospital. $580 million is also allocated for future health facility projects.
  • Education: $500 million is to be spent on new schools over four years, with $488 million for future school projects. $754 million is allocated to post-secondary capital projects to support facilities for instruction, research and administration for universities and colleges.
  • Environment: Environmental spending account for 13% of infrastructure investment, with projects such as the replacement of provincial highway lighting with energy efficient LED bulbs, provincial park investments, and support for fish culture and caribou rearing.

          Read more: Staying the Course on the Carbon Leadership Plan – Alberta Budget 2017

  • Clean drinking water: In the wake of a number of highly publicized news stories, investments in safe water for Albertans living on reserves also receives special attention. $100 million is allocated to support integration of regional drinking water systems with Indigenous communities’ federally supported water systems, ensuring access to clean drinking water.

Infrastructure Spending to Fuel Economic Growth?

Increased infrastructure spending, including the focus on upgrades, maintenance, and the construction of new facilities, could have a positive impact on the construction industry and related trades, many of which have been adversely impacted by Alberta’s economic downturn.

Read more: Diversifying the Economy and Workforce of the Future – Alberta Budget 2017 

While the government’s infrastructure spending could kick-start economic growth and job development, some concerns remain that such positive impacts might come with too high a price tag. If you have any questions about how Alberta’s 2017 Budget or infrastructure spending might impact your business, please contact your local BDO office.

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