Alberta Minute: Energy Rebates, Unclear Spending, and a Big Budget Turnaround
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
While the Legislature continues its summer break until October 31st, the race to lead the government in the new session continues. There are now ten candidates registered with Elections Alberta to run for UCP Leader.
There is one committee meeting this week. The Standing Committee on Legislative Offices will meet on Tuesday from 9:00 am to 11:00 am to discuss draft amendments to the Publication Ban (Court Applications and Orders) Regulation. The Committee will also review the audit results for the Office of the Auditor General.
- Grant applications are now open for Indigenous-owned businesses in Alberta. The Aboriginal Investment Fund provides up to $500,000 in capital funding for small to medium sized projects. Indigenous communities must own and control 51% or more of the proposed business or joint venture to be eligible.
Last Week In Alberta:
The provincial government announced a $3.9 billion budget surplus for the 2021-2022 fiscal year thanks to resource revenues from skyrocketing oil and gas prices. This is a massive turnaround from the $18.2 billion deficit originally projected and is likely the biggest fiscal turnaround for any province in the entire history of Confederation. Now comes the hard part - not squandering it.
- Speaking of squandering money, Alberta’s Auditor General said it was not always clear where the $1.3 billion the Province received from the federal government for COVID-19 related initiatives was spent. Some of the notes make for alarming reading - the Ministry of Education did not disclose how it spent $263 million on a safe return to the classroom, and the Ministry of Health did not disclose how it spent $260 million to protect staff and residents in long-term care.
- Details of the long-promised natural gas rebate were revealed. It will be a modest program and will kick in if the monthly default rate rises above $6.50 per gigajoule (GJ). Beginning this October, consumers will receive the difference in regulated rate per GJ and $6.50 per GJ. So, if the regulated rate rose to $7.50 per GJ, customers would receive a $1 rebate for every GJ used. No application is necessary for natural gas customers, but those who use other eligible fuel types do need to apply.
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