While the Alberta government is praising another balanced budget, critics say there is nothing to celebrate. 

The annual report, recapping the fiscal year for the province was unveiled on Thursday morning and showed a third-straight balanced budget and surplus. 

According to the report, the province ended this financial year with a $4.3 billion surplus after receiving just over $74 billion in revenue, up from the budgeted $70 billion. 

Money from non-renewable resource revenue was about $19 billion, with $15 billion coming from personal income tax and $7 billion from corporate income tax. All three of those numbers were more than projected in the 2023 Budget. 

“Our government has kept its promise to balance our budget and provide Albertans the services and supports they need,” said Minister of Finance Nate Horner. “We will keep building opportunity so that our children and grandchildren can continue to benefit, grow and share in the province’s prosperity.” 

As for expenses, the province reported a rise in the money spent on operating costs, health care, and K-12 education. The numbers for health care, education, and post-secondary saw increases of $632 million, $42 million and $454 million respectively. 

A graph of the year end financials for the Province of Alberta (Government of Alberta)(Government of Alberta)

While corporate income tax was $1.1 billion more than forecasted, it was $1.1 billion less than in 2022-23, mainly because of softer corporate profits and weaker commodity prices. The province also reported $12.3 billion in federal transfers from a larger health transfer based on the province’s growing population and increases in agricultural support and funding for the federal-provincial child-care agreement. 

Horner said the government is committed to paying down debt and is allocating $3.7 billion to debt repayment, with $1.7 billion repaid in 2023-24 and another $2 billion debt due in 2024-25. 

Taxpayer-supported debt was $81.8 billion as of March 31 of this year, with debt servicing costs registering $301 million higher than estimated from the 2023 Budget. 

Another $2 billion in surplus has been set aside to grow the Alberta Heritage Fund for the coming year. 

While the UCP government is praising another annual surplus, the Opposition pointed out flaws in the report. 

Samir Kayande, Alberta NDP Critic for Finance, pointed out that the report did not offer tax breaks for Alberta residents and that the increase in spending did nothing to help the healthcare and education sectors.

“Danielle Smith increased spending by $5.9 billion while kids experience ever-increasing class sizes and just one new school under construction in Calgary. Cancer patients aren’t getting treatment because of a lack of oncologists," he said.

"There are 29 partially closed hospitals across Alberta today. A rural community health centre is slated to close permanently at the end of this week. Our schools and post-secondaries are overcrowded and underfunded. Albertans are squeezed between rising prices and the lowest wage growth in Canada."

The fiscal report came out just two days after Statistics Canada showed that the country's inflation rate ticked up to 2.9 per cent in May. Alberta's remained unchanged at 3 per cent, and it's been higher than the national rate for the last five months.