Fees and taxes will continue to rise for Albertans as part of the government’s latest cost-saving budget.
Some of the new costs were announced late last year in the United Conservative Party’s first budget, but with more details now included. Some, like removing the link between personal income tax and inflation and the elimination of education tax credits, will continue to cost Albertans.
Here is what we know about the impact of Budget 2020 on your personal bottom line.
The province-wide education tax is going up 3.1 per cent, but it’s next to impossible to quantify what that will mean for an individual Albertan. In some areas, you might pay less, in others, you might pay more. If the amount from property taxes slated for education in your municipality decreases, that amount, or tax room, could be taken by a municipality regardless, which has happened in the past in Calgary.
The government says an estimated $10 million is deducted from the next two years of education tax for a program that “provides an equivalent education tax credit for municipalities who are unable to collect education property tax on delinquent oil and gas properties.”
No surprises here. The government announced last year that it was removing the moratorium on tuition increases and post-secondaries promptly raised them. The government allows increases of up to seven per cent per year as part of an effort to reduce its share of post-secondary spending. In the latest budget, it anticipates tuition increases of 6.9 per cent each year for the next three years.
There are no figures in the budget to account for local taxes going up, but the provincial government does note that it anticipates higher revenue due to “charging municipalities for policing costs,” something which has raised the ire of many municipalities across Alberta as they struggle to find additional revenue to cover those costs. Provincial funding for both operations and capital in municipalities will fall over the next three years.
Camping and trail fees
Some camping spots could see a $10 increase in nightly fees — from $26 to $36 — and there will be another dollar tacked on to things like electric, water and sewer hookups and shower access — from $7 to $8.
A new permit fee of $30 will come into effect in 2021-22 “supporting the development, maintenance and longevity of recreation trails on Crown land,” but there are no details as to who will directly pay the fee.
The government announced in its last budget that it would bring in a tax on vaping, and now has numbers to attach to the promise. The tax applies to all vaping liquids, including cannabis, as well as vaping devices.
The new tax is anticipated to bring in $4 million in 2020-21 and $8 million by 2022-23, but won’t come into effect until later this spring. The province hopes this will discourage youth when it comes to vaping.
Another one from the last budget, but more details: the government will implement a four per cent tourism levy, just like the one imposed on hotels, for short-term rentals like AirBnB. The government anticipates this will add $3 million to its coffers this year, and $4 million by 2022-23.
Fines and penalties
The government says it will increase a provincial surcharge from the current 15 per cent up to 20 per cent on everything from speeding tickets to fineable convictions in provincial court. In the past the charge has funded victims of crime programs and will now also pay for “public safety priorities.” It’s anticipated the increase will bring in an additional $14 million per year.
This one won’t directly impact all Albertans, but those who work for the province or are paid by the province, will feel a pinch. Those pinches will ripple through the economy. There are job losses across most ministries, most of which the government says will come through attrition.
Overall, public sector compensation costs are expected to decline by 2.1 per cent over three years.
The two hardest hit sectors are Advanced Education, which will shed 398 jobs this year, and K-12 education, which will lose 244 certified and uncertified positions.
The largest direct government department losses are agriculture and forestry, which loses 277 positions, and community and social services, with 136 positions gone.
In total, 684 direct departmental jobs will be lost and 752 jobs in agencies, health, education and other “operationally-independent entities.” In total 1,436 full-time equivalent positions with disappear.
There will also be wage freezes or reductions if the government has its way. The province recently imposed changes to how doctors bill the province and most collective agreements are up for negotiation this year. The government makes it clear in the budget that it wants to see those wages come down.
The biggest winner? The justice and solicitor general department will increase its ranks, with 50 new prosecutors on the payroll.