Alberta is sitting on the largest amount of unallocated federal COVID-19 funding, according to a new report.
In its report Still picking up the tab: Federal and provincial government COVID-19 funding, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said Alberta now has $1.8 billion, up from $750 million reported in the centre’s January report.
“This represents poor budget transparency, with the lack of detailed plans for a significant portion of its COVID-19 measures, as many other provinces have managed to do,” said the report authored by David Macdonald.
The report goes on to say that Alberta has received the most federal support of any province, at $11,410 a person. The second highest was Ontario, which received $9,940 a person.
“Alberta’s large share of federal support has been, in part, due to the $1 billion oil and gas well closure program, as well as proportionally more companies taking advantage of federal business support due to the province’s economy being hard hit by COVID-19.”
Per capita support for businesses was the highest in Alberta at $4,740 a person. But 92 per cent came from the federal government through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ($17.5 billion) and the Canada Emergency Business Account loan forgiveness program ($1.9 billion).
The largest provincially initiated business support programs were the re-launch grants for small and medium-sized businesses, worth $575 million, and investments in carbon capture, utilization and storage, worth $323 million.
The author said as of the centre’s January report, Alberta had applied for basically none of the federal essential worker wage top up money to boost low-wage essential worker wages. But after the release of the January report, Alberta announced that it would fully access the federal funds for $348 million in federal dollars, combined with $116 million in provincial funds, for a program worth $465 million for low-wage, front-line workers.
Like other Western provinces, Alberta contributed more to infrastructure than the federal government. Eighty-nine per cent of the infrastructure dollars were provincial, compared to only 11 per cent in federal funding.