Earlier this month, the Alberta government published a news release regarding spending $81 million more on home care this year.
It’s unclear why they published this release, given that this amount is what was listed in the 2022–2023 budget released back in February.
The 2022–2023 budget indicated that the UCP government expects that final spending on home care for the 2021–2022 budget year will come in at $669 million. They go on to estimate spending $750 million this year, which, indeed, is $81 million more.
But there are some details about this year’s funding—and funding from previous years—that the UCP are leaving out.
In their first budget, released in late 2019, the UCP government indicated that they were freezing home care spending at $682 million, which is what the NDP government ended up spending in their final year in power.
That spending freeze was supposed to last for the entirety of the UCP administration: 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
However, what actually ended up happening is that the UCP underspent that freeze over the last two budget years, spending $651 million during the 2020–2021 year, and forecasting $669 million for health care for last year.
In fact, if you add up how much they spent in their first two years, and assume their forecast for last year holds, then we see a total of $2.031 billion.
However, at $682 million a year for 3 years, that total should’ve been $2.046 billion. That means the government underspent by $15 million.
Not only that, but the NDP had planned on spending $740 million on home care in 2019–2020 and $830 million in 2020–2021. Their last budget didn’t include targets for 2021–2023 or later.
Even if we look at those two years, look at the significant difference:
|NDP targets||UCP actuals||Difference|
|2019–2020||$740 million||$711 million||-$29 million|
|2020–2021||$830 million||$651 million||-$179 million|
|$1.570 billion||$1.362 billion||-$208 million|
What we notice is that the UCP not only underspent based on their own projection of a spending freeze, but they spent more than $200 million less than they NDP had indicated they’d spend during those same years.
Another way to look at the numbers is that the NDP planned to increase spending on home care by 20.1% in their first two years of a second term, had they been re-elected.
By contrast, the UCP had reduced funding by 6.1% during the same period.
Plus, had the UCP continued the average annual increase of roughly 10% that the NDP were planning, home care funding for 2022–2023 wouldn’t be $750 million like they planned. It’d be a little over $956 million.
I mean, good for them for realizing that freezing home care spending during super high inflation isn’t sustainable and increasing spending, but it’s still more than $200 million short from where it should be.
Heck, 4 years into their first term, they’re barely spending more (1.4%) on home care than the NDP planned to spend in just their first year.
And I’ll point out that inflation has increased 9.02% between May 2019, just after the UCP were elected, and this past April.
This new increase isn’t even covering inflation increases, let alone population increases.
This is not the good news the UCP want us to believe.