Hello Chestermere! This week we have a couple of important thing to chat with you about. First of all I would like to speak about the Electoral Boundaries Commission. As you may have heard there could be some changes in this constituency. Basically, we could lose the portion of the constituency west of the eastern limit of the City of Calgary and north of Highway 564. Added would be Wheatland County east to Highway 21 and south to the Bow River (see http://abebc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/EBCFINAL_ED55_CHESTERMERE-STRATHMORE.pdf ). The new Chestermere-Strathmore constituency adds the towns of Strathmore and Carseland. Some of you may have heard some interesting rumours. The rumour is that I am seeking to run in North East Calgary as the candidate for the United Conservative Party. I want to be perfectly clear: should I be fortunate enough to win the nomination, I will be seeking re-election in the new constituency of Chestermere-Strathmore. As we get more information about the boundary commission we will let you know. This is my home. I have lived in Chestermere since 1979 and I am not going anywhere.
The next thing I would like to discuss is the news release put out by the United Conservative Party that the Carbon Tax will effectively be a 75% rate increase on your natural gas. Here’s how this works. This is based on the average amount of GJ an Albertan family will use. The average family will use 120 GJ of gas per year. At the low end based on 2017 numbers the cost of gas was $1.83 GJ. At 120 GJ a year that will cost the average family $219.60 per year. At the high end we are looking at $ 3.75 GJ. This will cost the average family $450.00 a year in actual net gas cost. All of us fall somewhere in the middle as these prices fluctuate through the year. The Carbon Tax is charged on a per GJ basis and will be increased Jan 1 from $1.01/GJ to $1.51/GJ.
What muddies the waters are the “add-ons” to your bill. They are another story for another day but bear with me here. The first fee is the Administrative Fee at an average $7.72 a month which is $92.64 per year regardless of how much gas you use. The next is your fixed delivery charge at $0.82/day or $299.30 per year. The next charge is the variable rate on delivery this is based on how much gas you actually consume. The cost for this is $1.70/GJ consumed so if you use 120 GJ a year this is an additional $204.00 per year above your gas cost.
The next piece of the puzzle is the distribution and transmission piece. These are your friendly rate riders. Rate riders are approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC). This allows municipalities and providers to charge you their rates and franchise fees. So for example in my house we use Direct Energy who charges a fee of $8.39 per month. Chestermere also charges a “municipal franchise fee” (actually a tax) of $7.83 per month. So for those two fees on average the cost per year is $ 194.64. So at the median gas price of $2.79/GJ the average family will use gas costing $334.80 per year. Add in the various fees, etc. and your total yearly bill is $1125.38 per year on 120 GJ of consumption. So now let’s add in the taxes. In 2017, the carbon tax is $1.01/GJ regardless of how low or how high gas prices go. At the high end of 2017 prices it added 27% to the gas cost, at the low end it added 55%, and at the $2.79 median the Carbon Tax added 36%. The icing on the cake is that you get to pay GST on the Carbon Tax since the NDP Government called it a “levy”, not a tax. Add in the GST and at the median gas price of $2.79/GJ the average family pays $1308.91 per year to heat their home. In 2018 if gas prices stay low at $1.83/GJ with the carbon tax going up a whopping 50% to $1.51 per GJ this is an 82.5% increase to your gas cost. Forecasting is a game of odds but gas is in surplus and if gas prices average $2.00/GJ the added $1.51 Carbon Tax will represent a 75% increase to your cost of gas. Hence the news release. If our Prime Minister decides to start with a $50/tonne Carbon Tax ($2.50/GJ) we will see massive increases. If you are a senior or on a fixed income or AISH for example this is very destructive.
Here’s a fun fact. There is a principle that one level of government doesn’t tax taxes charged by another level of government. Because the NDP Government calls the Carbon Tax a “levy”, not a tax, the Federal Government gets to charge GST on the total Carbon Tax charged by the NDP. So at a total of $3 Billion in revenue for the Carbon Tax in 2017 and 2018, $150 million will be added. This is being plucked from Albertans’ pockets and sent directly to Ottawa. The Premier’s gift to Justin Trudeau I guess.
I would like to congratulate the Chestermere Public Library on their 10th anniversary as one of the jewels of our community. The previous and present Boards, the many volunteers, inaugural Director Jo Anne Houston and current Director Debbie Weber, and the great past and present employees have all worked to make the Library the wonderful place it is. Sadly, 3 of the greatest volunteers behind the Library are no longer with us: Ada Rawlins, John Clarke, and Carol Lyons. Remember though, what you do for yourself dies with you, what you do for others lives forever. They have left us with a great legacy and they are fondly remembered.
Now that the WinterLights Festival has kicked off the Christmas Season in fine style, I hope to see you at the many school concerts and other Christmas festivities. Note that my office will be closed from November 30 through December 6. As always, we love to hear from you.