Federal budget ‘pours gasoline’ on inflation crisis: Alberta finance minister

Alberta’s finance minister says the latest federal budget may be the worst in decades and will only fuel Canada’s rampant cost of living crisis.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the budget Tuesday, posting a projected deficit of $39.8 billion for fiscal 2024-25, just a hair below the $40 billion projected last fall.

Minister Nate Horner, speaking to reports after the budget was released, says the latest spending plan ignores the demands from Alberta and will stifle economic growth.

“They’re trying to bribe Canadians with the deficit, fueling inflation that is hurting all Canadians,” he says.

“We wanted to see support for strategic industries impacted by federal policies related to the clean economy. We wanted to see long-term flexible infrastructure funding.”

Horner is accusing the federal Liberals of overspending, claiming Canadians can expect even more tax increases and consumers will end up footing the bill.

He also called out the $8.5 billion investment into housing, saying the initiatives come with “heavy linkages” to federal compliance.

“We see continued intrusion into areas of provincial jurisdiction, with red tape and strings attached to any funding,” he says.

The government is taking creative steps to address the housing crisis, such as converting underused federal offices into homes and building homes on Canada Post properties.

Local housing advocate Kathryn Davies, co-founder of More Neighbours Calgary, says she is pleased with the funding and the overall approach from the Trudeau government.

“I do think it’s creative, but I also think it’s been informed by experts,” she says. “There have been a lot of people working on these creative solutions for the past couple of years and it looks like the government has taken those recommendations to heart.”

Davies added she hopes the provincial government won’t stand in the way of the housing initiatives, and possibly take inspiration from the federal government’s willingness to address the crisis.

Horner did applaud the $5 billion investment to support an Indigenous government backed loan guarantee program, which he says mirrors Alberta AIOC program.

Mayor Gondek feeling ‘neutral’ about feds spending plan

Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek says she is feeling pretty “neutral” about the federal budget.

She said it was great to see lots of investments for housing, including funding to unlock land in Currie for 100 new homes, but added there was one thing on her budget wishlist that wasn’t included.

“Once again there is no mention of having some sort of a better, more permanent solution to how the federal government funds municipalities,” she said. “That is something we’ve been asking for for some time.”

The federal budget put special emphasis on “generational fairness” and “helping younger people,” with programs to help renters and first-time home buyers.

The budget still includes $53 billion in new spending over five years, the majority of it previously announced in measures to accelerate the construction of new homes to address the housing supply crunch, provide meals to lower income school children and take the first steps to a national pharmacare program that will initially cover the costs of birth control and diabetes medications.

The spending is partially offset by what the government calls “tax fairness measures,” projected to bring in $18.2 billion in additional revenues over five years.

More details on the 2024 federal budget can be found here.

With files from CityNews political correspondent Glen McGregor

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today