Alberta Minute: Big Surplus, Final Debate, and Tax Policy Reversed
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
It’s a holiday and we hope you are enjoying your long weekend. Last week was also the first-ever Alberta Day.
While the Assembly remains on hiatus until October 31st, there is some activity in the Legislature building this week. The Select Special Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner Search Committee will meet on Wednesday at 1:00 pm. No agenda is available for this meeting.
- Legal Aid attorneys are continuing with job action, refusing serious cases and protesting outside of courthouses in Calgary and Edmonton. Lawyers are asking for higher pay and more funding to expand Legal Aid to more Albertans. Justice Minister Tyler Shandro says that nothing can be done until the fall budget and that the program is adequately funded.
Last Week In Alberta:
The Province provided a fiscal update and announced that Alberta is on track for a $13.2 billion surplus. Thanks to rising commodity prices and resource royalty revenues, this fiscal update far exceeded the expectation of a $511 million surplus originally forecast in February. That initial forecast was based on the West Texas Intermediate oil price averaging $70 USD per barrel - the price averaged more than $100 USD per barrel for the first six months of the year. The government has a plan for that money and it isn’t Ralph Bucks 2.0. Finance Minister Jason Nixon announced that the extra cash will be used to pay down the debt and add roughly $3 billion to the Heritage Savings Trust Fund.
- In light of the surplus, Premier Jason Kenney announced that personal income tax levels would be reindexed and tied to inflation, retroactive to the 2022 tax year. While we are pleased to see the reversal of this terrible policy, the indexation needs to be retroactie to 2019 when it was introduced, otherwise every Alberta will still be paying higher taxes than under the NDP!
- The United Conservative Party held its final official leadership debate in Edmonton. Topics ranged from Alberta’s place in confederation, COVID-19 decisions, and a potential provincial police force. Ballots are in the mail for eligible UCP members and must be returned by October 3rd. The new leader - and Premier - will be announced on October 6th
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