Alberta Budget 2022: Moving Forward
Alberta’s Minister of Finance, Honourable Travis Toews, tabled his fourth budget on February 24. Budget 2022: Moving Forward introduced a surplus of $500 million for the first time since 2014, with two small surpluses projected in the coming two years.
Budget 2022 highlighted three key priorities for government:
- Enhance government services now and for the future
- Grow Alberta’s economy
- Fiscal sustainability
Minister Toews also announced a $600 million investment over three years to the Alberta at Work program. This program will build on educational instruction, developing skills in the workforce, and investing to develop and attract talent to the province.
Along with controlled spending, a dramatic recovery in commodity prices helped spur the budget surplus. While West Texas Intermediate (WTI) hovers around $94/barrel, Budget 2022 forecasts WTI to average out around $70/barrel in 2022-23 and drop to $69 and $66.50 in the following two years. Stronger oil prices are indeed a positive turn of events for our industry as they spur economic activity at restaurants and hotels throughout the province.
No new business or personal income tax measures were announced.
Other tax measures in the Budget include:
- Online marketplaces like Airbnb and VRBO are now required to collect and remit the tourism levy on behalf of their Alberta short-term rental hosts. The AHLA supported this change and appreciates the government’s effort to implement fair rules for short-term rental providers.
- Provincial park booking fees rise from $5 to $10.
Travel Alberta’s budget remains flat at $59.9 million in 2022-23.
“The AHLA appreciates the GOA maintaining it’s current commitment to fund Travel Alberta’s 3-year bootstrap plan for 2022-23. However, we are disappointed the budget recommendation provided by the AHLA and the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta to provide an additional $2.5M to Travel Alberta for the delivery of a world-class labour attraction campaign to promote destination employment career paths and job opportunities for our sector was not included. It is also noteworthy that the $59.9 M in funding provided to Travel Alberta falls short of the projected $73 M generated through the Alberta Tourism Levy in budget 2022-23.”
– Dave Kaiser, President & CEO
Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association
Jobs & Economy
Outside of controlling government spending, job creation and economic growth are the two key priorities for improving Alberta’s economic and fiscal outlook. Alberta’s unemployment rate is forecasted to be at 6.6% in 2022-23, down from the estimate of 8.7% in 2021-22. By 2025, the government estimates that the unemployment rate will fall to 5.5%.
Budget 2022 introduces Alberta at Work, the province’s new plan for Albertans to develop new skills, to attract workers to the province, and to help all Albertans find employment. The plan includes $600 million in incremental investment over three years to achieve its five pathways:
- Building foundations
- Developing skills
- Seeking employment
- Advancing your career
- Workforce and investment attraction goals
Skill development training and employment programs will get $64 million over three years, and $10 million in 2023-24 to address barriers to employment. This will be largely sector-specific with more details in the coming weeks, but could address labour issues in hospitality, tourism, and retail.
In order to support our goal of a sustainable workforce for Alberta hotels, the AHLA will be paying close attention to the initiatives that come out of this program as we build out our three-year labour strategy. In particular, we hope to benefit from the targeted funding to increase work-integrated learning opportunities for post-secondary students as a way to address our labour challenges. These programs provide students with paid work experience, giving students hands-on experience in their field of interest, increasing the supply of labour to hotels in both the long and short term.
Labour & Immigration
The Ministry has been tasked with extending the three-day leave currently offered when a family member passes away to employees who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Community & Social Services
Budget 2022 includes $30 million over two years to address barriers to employment as part of Alberta at Work. The government anticipates this investment will help about 10,000 new and existing clients gain employment and ultimately reduce the amount of time they are on income support programs. The AHLA hopes to benefit by attracting a talent pipeline who may wish to reskill or train to work in our industry.
While the tourism and hospitality industry does not appear to be at the forefront of Budget 2022, there are opportunities within the Alberta at Work program that the AHLA intends to capitalize on to attract and retain talent. Notably, Budget 2022 invests in training and education for in-demand skills, improved labour market information, and investment and job creation in rural Alberta. The AHLA is committed to ensuring that these monies help to address the critical labour shortage that our members are facing.
If you have any questions, please contact Laurie Chandler at email@example.com