The City of Red Deer has not received a heads-up on any major funding announcement for the Red Deer hospital expansion in Thursday’s provincial budget.
Mayor Tara Veer said city officials will continue urging the provincial government to move forward with the much delayed Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre expansion if significant money isn’t allotted for the project in the upcoming budget.
Veer noted the city was given no prior notice of any major provincial budget announcements for Red Deer.
Municipal officials remain concerned about the provincial budget’s effect on municipal financial sustainability and Red Deer’s economic recovery. They will also have to assess, from the budget announcement by Premier Jason Kenney, whether approved capital projects can go ahead.
Although some provincial funding cuts are expected in the medium to long term, “we are expecting minimal fluctuations for 2021 or 2022,” the mayor added.
Therefore the city anticipates being able to go ahead with the capital projects slated for the next couple of years. Veer said they mostly involve core infrastructure and services that will generate economic activity in the community and are important to local economic recovery.
“We expect there will be provincial capital funding for municipalities to fulfill current budget requirements.”
The City of Red Deer also receives operating grants from the province for local non-profits that need the funds to continue serving Red Deerians — and no reduction in these is expected, said Veer. However, “we will be closely watching for potential risks that could harm… local community organizations who rely on provincial funding.”
City officials will also analyze the budget to identify any unexpected changes in provincial fees and charges.
“When we developed the 2021 and 2022 budgets, we were very conservative. We had to consider the overall economic climate and the impact the economy has on the provincial funding we receive,” said city manager Allan Seabrooke.
As the Alberta government tries to make up for lost revenue, municipalities could see increases in provincial fees, which could have significant impact on the City of Red Deer as well as Red Deerians, Seabrooke added.
“These are harder to spot but we’ll look closely to identify any that could result in increased costs.”
The city expects to provide a response to the provincial budget on Friday.