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Unsustainable municipal spending hurts entrepreneurs

The 2017 Alberta Municipal Spending report analyzes municipal operating spending growth by local governments in Alberta and compares it to CFIB’s sustainable spending benchmark of inflation and population growth. The report finds that real operating spending from 2005 to 2015 increased by 69 per cent, while population grew by 25 per cent. Excessive spending cost households $1,738 in 2015 alone and a total of $10,650 from 2005 to 2015.

Alberta municipalities have overspent by $15.1 billion since 2005 and $2.6 billion in 2015 alone. More than half of municipal operating spending across Alberta was allocated toward salaries, wages, and benefits. Taxation by municipalities has also increased by 101 per cent from 2005 to 2015.

This report analyzes the municipal operating spending of municipalities across Alberta from 2005 to 2015. Alberta’s 180 largest municipalities (i.e. with populations of 1,000 residents or more) are ranked, Alberta’s 18 cities are compared, and lastly an overview of municipal spending and revenue is presented.


CFIB is calling on municipalities to control their spending rather than increase taxes and for the province to reject the request for additional taxation powers.

The report recommends municipalities:

  • Control spending increases to the rate of population growth
  • Adopt sustainable wage growth policies
  • Have suitable contingency funds to match the risk of natural disasters


The report recommends the province:

  • Continue to reject calls for new taxation powers through City Charter agreements
  • Create a municipal auditor general to conduct performance-based audits of Alberta’s municipalities
  • Not proceed with the City Charter proposal that allows municipal governments to run multi-year operational deficits


Read the full 2017 Alberta Municipal Spending report.

October 3, 2017

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Topics in this Article: Local Government