CALGARY, ALTA. – While the Alberta Construction Association (ACA) praised the province for infrastructure investments in its 2017 budget, the group remains concerned about a $2 billion forecasted deficit.
In a statement the ACA noted it has always said infrastructure investment is a way to keep good trade jobs in Alberta during difficult times in other parts of the economy.
The government has increased the capital plan for the next four years by over a billion dollars to build much needed schools, health care facilities and roads. That additional $1 billion means half a billion dollars in wages for working Albertans across the province, explains a release.
Half a billion dollars supports 6,600 full time construction jobs in a year.
ACA expressed support for a number of budget measures including increased funding of $46 million for apprenticeship delivery and new training opportunities.
"This will support construction jobs and families across Alberta," reads a release from the ACA. The association added that building schools at an accelerated rate will assist young families and school systems under pressure, particularly in larger communities.
"We also commend the government on making changes to control future spending," noted the ACA.
However, the association cautioned the government to find more ways to avoid increasing the deficit and government spending.
"It will hurt job growth and spending flexibility if the government is hampered by debt services which is set to increase to $2 billion a year by 2020," stated the ACA.
The association noted that while the Fort McMurray wildfire was a large unaccounted for expense, the government needs to explain its plan for the best way to bring the budget back to balance without impacting employment.
The capital plan will support $29.5 billion in infrastructure projects over four years, including:
- $7.6 billion in municipal infrastructure support, including $4.8 billion under the Municipal Sustainability Initiative and $0.8 billion for GreenTRIP;
- $4.7 billion for capital maintenance and renewal;
- $3.8 billion for climate change and environmental sustainability;
- $4.5 billion for health infrastructure including $400 million towards the planning and implementation of a new hospital in Edmonton, starting in 2018-19;
- $2.6 billion for schools;
- $3.1 billion for roads and bridges; and
- $100 million to support Albertans living on reserves who do not have reliable access to clean drinking water.