Alberta Construction Association has reviewed the first full Provincial Budget of Premier Danielle Smith’s Government and believes it is a good first step. However, the measures the Government has undertaken to support Alberta’s strong economic growth likely mean revisiting key investments in infrastructure and workforce.
The Capital Budget
ACA applauds the Budget for spreading investments around the Province and for publishing lists of key projects by region as this assists industry planning to have sufficient resources.
Capital Plan 2023 of $23 billion is roughly a 15% increase from Capital Plan 2022 ($20.2 billion), with focus on health, education, roads, and municipal infrastructure:
• $6.5 billion for municipal infrastructure;
• $3.5 billion for capital maintenance and renewal;
• $3.1 billion for health facilities;
• $2.3 billion for roads and bridges;
• $1.6 billion for schools;
• $1.1 billion for agriculture and natural resources;
• $3.2 billion for other Capital Plan envelopes; and
• $1.7 billion in SUCH sector self-financed capital spending.
This level of investment is appreciated but given the significant in-migration to Alberta in the coming years this level of financing will struggle to keep pace to support Albertans quality of life and the Province’s export capabilities. Nearly 33,000 people moved to Alberta in Q3 2022, an increase of 55% from a year earlier. The cost of construction is also not immune from inflationary pressures impacting the entire economy. Dedicated Budget funds for design and planning in advance of construction are a good signal of managing expected growth.
Investing in Alberta’s Workforce
ACA appreciates the Budget 2023 investments in post-secondary education, employment supports, and continued funding to address mental health and addictions.
Given an aging population, Alberta’s construction workforce needs significant renewal. Indeed, without significant renewal our ability to deliver value for taxpayers for public infrastructure and to provide competitive return on private capital investment, becomes constrained if supply of skilled trades professionals lags labour demand. BuildForce Canada estimates that Alberta may not be training enough apprentices for selected trades. New funding of $15 million over 3 years is not sufficient to meet projected demand.