Alberta Budget 2023 creates generational tensions for upcoming election

Alberta’s United Conservative Party delivers one of the most generationally unfair budgets in Canada, by legislating a large gap in spending between citizens age 65-plus and those under age 45.

The 2023 Alberta budget spends approximately $16,700 for each Albertan age 65-plus, compared to $9,900 for each Albertan under 45, according to a new study by Dr. Paul Kershaw of the UBC School of Population Health and Founder of Generation Squeeze.

The result is a $6,800 spending gap between an Alberta retiree and a younger Albertan. This gap is larger than in Ontario ($6,600), and in BC ($4,800) – Canada’s two other English-speaking provinces with large populations.

The generational tensions in Alberta’s budget risk pitting grandparents against grandchildren, rather than making the province work for all generations.

Albertans go to the poll on May 29. The platforms that all parties will put on offer to attract votes will use the 2023 provincial budget as a starting point – risking the spread of the generational tensions already baked-in to this document. To promote wellbeing for all generations, the leaders of Alberta’s political must specifically draw attention to generational unfairness, and promise to reduce it.

Medical care spending drives the generational imbalance

Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) data show that Alberta’s medical system spends less than $3,000/year for those under age 25. That figure rises to around $4,000/year by age 45; $9,000 by age 65; and $30,000 by age 85. 

Alberta spends over $1,300 more per person age 65+ for medical care than BC and Ontario. Conversely, Alberta spends less per resident under age 45 for grade school than does Ontario, and less than BC for postsecondary.

Some Albertans may think that higher provincial spending on medical care is a point of pride, especially now, when so many Canadians are concerned about gaps in our medical system.  But the data show this spending isn’t worth bragging about, because it does not routinely buy the province better outcomes. According to CIHI, Alberta ranks below BC, Ontario and the national average for infant mortality, heart disease mortality, cervical cancer mortality, rectal cancer mortality, avoidable admissions for COPD (lung disease), avoidable admissions for diabetes, and even lower life expectancy.

Alberta’s relatively poor health outcomes despite higher medical spending reflects that medical care accounts for only one-quarter of our health. Medical care was never supposed to go it alone to foster good health – it’s meant to be part of a wider system supporting people with the things they need to be healthy and well, like decent earnings, homes, child care, and a sustainable planet.

Read our full Alberta budget analysis

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