Alberta Minute: Park Access, Intervenor Status, and Health Spending Accounts
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
- The Legislature remains adjourned this week, but the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices will hold a meeting today from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The Committee will review the 2021-2022 Annual Report of the Child and Youth Advocate.
- Albertan families with a household income of less than $180,000 will be able to apply for affordability cheques starting January 18th. These cheques consist of six monthly payments of $100 each. Individuals receiving benefits through AISH or other income supports will receive their payments automatically. However, others, including those previously mentioned who also have children, will need to apply through the government's online portal.
- Voting is now open on potential design options for a $20 million renovation of the wading pool area at the Legislature building in Edmonton. Albertans can give feedback on which elements and features are most important to them. The survey results will be posted online before construction starts on the wading pool, which is expected to begin in spring 2023 and conclude in 2024. The survey can be taken online and is open until January 27th. Not spending $20 million and cutting taxes instead, is not one of the survey options, unfortunately.
Last Week In Alberta:
- Alberta is exploring the implementation of private Health Spending Accounts (HSAs), similar to those currently available to civil servants and members of the legislature. These accounts would enable individuals to allocate funds toward their healthcare needs as necessary. The source of funding for these accounts has not been confirmed, and it remains unclear whether it would come from the provincial government, employers, or individuals. Premier Danielle Smith made it clear that the HSAs are not a replacement for public healthcare, but rather an addition.
- Alberta has been granted intervenor status in six legal challenges to the federal ban on hundreds of models of firearms. The Province will argue that the federal government's legislation is an overreach of its jurisdiction and will infringe on the rights of gun owners. Alberta's Justice Minister Tyler Shandro has said that the ban criminalizes law-abiding citizens who possess firearms that the federal government has decided have no place in hunting or sport shooting. The lawsuits are scheduled to be heard starting April 11th.
- Alberta’s Minister of Forestry, Parks and Tourism, Todd Loewen, criticized the federal government’s plan to restrict access to Banff National Park. Parks Canada announced that private vehicle access to Moraine Lake would no longer be allowed due to concerns about overcrowding. Loewen said the move would greatly reduce the ability of Albertans to visit the site.
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