Alberta Minute: Campaigns Begin, Calgary Arena, and No Tax Hikes
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
The 2023 Alberta election will kick off today with the issuing of the writ, which legally starts the official campaign period. Albertans will head to the polls on May 29th to choose their next government. United Conservative Party leader and incumbent Premier Danielle Smith is running to keep her job, and the NDP’s Rachel Notley is trying to get her old job back. Every election is supposedly the most important election, but this time it might just be true!
New requirements from the Province mean that anyone involved in seizing firearms as part of the federal gun buyback scheme will require a license from the Province - one they aren't likely to give out. This action fulfills a commitment under the newly passed Alberta Firearms Act. Police officers will, of course, be able to carry on with seizure of illegal firearms.
- Spring is coming to Alberta and the Province is at risk of grass and forest fires. According to the Province, almost all spring fires in Alberta are man-made and preventable. There have already been 134 wildfires in Alberta this year - 64 of those in the last week.
Last Week In Alberta:
- Premier Danielle Smith was in Calgary to announce that a deal has been reached for a new arena and home for the Calgary Flames. This time, the Province helped to get the deal done, after the last arrangement between the City of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation broke down. The new $1.2 billion deal covers the redevelopment of the entire “Rivers District” which includes the arena, a smaller community rink, a parking structure, an enclosed plaza, and several other public amenities. The Province will contribute $330 million, but has made it clear that the funding is only for supportive infrastructure around the arena, like sidewalks, pedestrian bridges, LRT station upgrades, half of the community rink, and the demolition of the existing Saddledome.
The Province announced $12 million to add capacity to Alberta’s two children’s hospitals. The Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary will add 10 surge beds, six pediatric intensive care unit beds, and 61 permanent critical care staff. Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton will get 12 more surge beds, one pediatric intensive care bed, and 52 more staff members. Plans were also announced for a joint venture between Alberta Health Services, the University of Calgary, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the Government of Alberta for a new research centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital that will focus on pediatric health.
- Premier Danielle Smith signed a “No Tax Hike Guarantee” - pledging that she would not increase personal income taxes if reelected. She also announced that the UCP would add personal and business taxes to the "Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act", which would mean a referendum would need to pass before the government could introduce any tax increase (the Act currently only applies to sales taxes). NDP leader Rachel Notley also said that she would not raise personal income taxes, but has already alluded to business tax increases.
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