Nate Horner’s first fiscal blueprint sticks to Premier’s message balanced budgets take precedence over tax cuts 

Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner delivered his first-ever budget today. It is also the first fiscal blueprint released since Danielle Smith was elected premier in spring 2023. 

The budget was released one week after Smith set the stage for fiscal restraint in her address to the province saying that balanced budgets, debt reduction and investments in the Heritage Fund will take precedence over tax cuts. 

Here is what your organization needs to know about Budget 2024:  

Fiscal Highlights:  

  • Budget 2024 includes surpluses of $367 million, $1.4 billion and $2.6 billion over the next three years. 
  • It prioritizes spending on core programs and services including health care, education, and social supports while also focusing on debt repayment, and investing $2 billion in additional revenues into the Heritage Fund. 
  • Debt is reduced by $3.2 billion. 
  • Real GDP is forecast to grow to 2.9 per cent in 2024, 3.3 per cent in 2025 and 2.8 per cent in 2026. 
  • Employment is projected to increase by three per cent in 2024, 3.1 per cent in 2025 and 2.5 per cent in 2026. 
  • Real GDP is forecast to grow to 2.9 per cent in 2024, 3.3 per cent in 2025 and 2.8 per cent in 2026. 
  • WTI is forecast at $74 per barrel for the next three years. WCS is forecast at $76.80 per barrel for 2024-2025, and slightly lower at $75.60 for 2025-2026.  

 Investments in Health Care and Education: 

  • A record $26.2 billion is being invested into the operating budget for the health care system, a 4.4 per cent increase over last year.  
  • $475 million is being allocated to support the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care system.  
  • $164 million in 2024-2025 to recruit, train, and retain more healthcare professional in Alberta. 
  • $4.5 billion over three years in capital funding to maintain or expand health care facilities across the province. 
  • $200 million over two years to improve access to family physicians.  
  • $842 million will be provided in new operating funding over the next three years to further support enrolment growth, bringing additional enrolment-based funding to more than $1.2 billion over the next three years to enable schools to hire more than 3,100 education staff. 
  • Budget 2024 will invest $1.9 billion over the next three years resulting in the construction and modernization of 98 schools.  
  • $55 million is being spent in capital funding starting in 2025-26 for the University of Calgary’s multidisciplinary hub to add 1,000 spaces in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. 
  • $63 million is allocated in capital funding over the next three years for Olds College to renovate and expand student spaces in the WJ Elliot Building. 
  • $43 million will be invested in capital funding over the next three years for NAIT’s trades and technology learning facility. 

Helping Albertans: 

  • $717 million in capital grants is being invested over three years to advance Stronger Foundations: Alberta’s 10-year Affordable Housing Strategy. 
  • $1.5 billion is allocated towards childcare services to create more spaces and lower fees. 
  • $328 million will be spent over three years in capital funding to develop recovery communities as well as children and youth mental health facilities. 
  • This includes $257 million for the Seniors Lodge, Social Housing, Specialized Housing, Affordable Housing and Rental Assistance programs that will expand rental assistance for an additional 550 households.  
  • $405 million is set aside for the Affordable Housing Partnership Program. 
  • $130 million will be spent to modernize seniors’ lodges. 
  • $91 million will be allocated for repairing government-owned social housing buildings. 
  • $75 million will be invested in the Indigenous Housing Capital Program. 

Wildfire preparation and emergency management:   

Budget 2024 makes new investments in emergency preparedness including: 

  • $151 million in operating expenses to strengthen wildfire response. 
  • $55 million in capital funding to upgrade facilities and equipment that support wildfire operations. 
  • $251 million in capital funding over three years for flood and drought mitigation projects. 
  • $418 million in capital funding over three years to expand water supply.  
  • $147 million for repairing and upgrading water infrastructure. 
  • $75 million over three years for the Renewed Flood and Drought Mitigation program.  

Safer communities:  

Budget 2024 makes safer communities a key priority by investing: 

  • $49 million in capital funding over three years to provide sheriffs and first responders with the equipment they need to protect Albertans.  
  • $10 million to support 100 police officers in high-crime areas in Calgary and Edmonton. 
  • $85 million in operating expense to the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence program that supports victims and women at risk of assault. 

This budget delivers on many of Smith’s key commitments, however she is delaying the promise on personal income tax relief until 2026/2027, starting in 2026 and rolling out over two years. Smith is prioritizing fiscal restraint, robust investments in the Heritage Fund, implementation of a long-term strategic plan with balanced budgets every year. Approximately 25% of the budget is dependent on energy royalties. 

To learn more about what this means for your sector, business, or association, please reach out to the Counsel Public Affairs Alberta team: 


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Deron Bilous,Senior Vice President, Western Canada

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Jennifer Henshaw, Associate Vice President, Prairies

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Dylan Topal, Senior Consultant, Prairies