Hello Chestermere-Strathmore readers.
I do not need to explain rising inflation to all of you. You know it, and you feel it every day. Inflation rates in Canada are reaching new highs and are continuing to rise as they hit 7.7 percent in May. This is up 0.9 percent from April, when Canada’s inflation was 6.8 percent. Here in Alberta, our inflation rate is rising, but we remain below the national average, at 7.1 percent in May. This is important, but we still feel it in our groceries, gas, and everyday things. There are a couple of things to look out for as we work to navigate this in government and help with some relief; and hopefully, more to come. One of the ways our government is working to make life more affordable for Albertans is by extending the fuel tax cut on gas and diesel. This means that Albertans will continue to save the 13-cent provincial fuel tax on every litre of fuel they purchase until at least the end of September. I don’t know if you have traveled outside our province, but the difference in gas pricing is huge. This extension is necessary, and I will continue to advocate to find more ways to help. This program has helped countless Albertans during these challenging economic times and is now remaining in place for longer. We are paying less for fuel than anywhere else in the country.
We also took the advice of our amazing school boards by providing them with fuel cost relief on their transportation budgets. By reinstating the Fuel Price Contingency Program for school authorities, which provides 8.2 million in fuel cost relief to school boards for the current school year, and planned additional relief for next school year if required. The program is being retroactively enacted in March 2022 and will remain in place for the upcoming school year. These are your tax dollars hard at work. This is an ongoing commitment to further help school authorities to provide consistent student transportation services. We must ensure that budgeted dollars remain in the classroom and that rising costs are not passed to parents through additional school fees. Students and their education must remain the top priority, and your tax dollars will help in preventing the burden of inflation from being unfairly placed on parents.
The electricity rebates will start arriving next month. Alberta electricity ratepayers will begin receiving a series of electricity billing rebates in July. Approximately 1.9 million households, farms, and small businesses will receive $50 for three consecutive months. With the natural gas price protection program, Albertans will receive nine months of support on utility bills. The difference between this and the former government’s rate cap is that the electricity rebate will reach ratepayers on all types of contracts, offering relief to those on the variable regulated rate and those on competitive contracts. We hope to help ease the burden of inflation. I will continue to advocate to help our families and businesses.
We continue to be concerned about the impact of inflation and its effect on over all affordability for every Albertan. That is why we will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure the cost of living remains affordable. The steps we have already taken represent more than $2 billion in annual savings for Albertans.
Despite all these steps, Alberta cannot solve this problem alone. We continue to call on Ottawa to get their irresponsible spending under control and immediately suspend the federal carbon tax and fuel tax to provide relief to Canadians.
The Alberta government’s new Community Policing Grant will help Indigenous and municipal communities develop a business case for their stand-alone police service or a regional equivalent.
The Community Policing Grant will offer up to $30,000 to Indigenous and municipal communities to assist in preparing a business case outlining local needs, capital requirements, and transition considerations. This grant formalizes funding that the government provided in the past but makes it more accessible to all municipalities and Indigenous communities. In 2018, a separate, one-time grant for about the same amount was provided to an Alberta First Nation that developed and submitted a business case that the Alberta government is now reviewing. Finally, a new bursary will provide $15 million over three years to help low-income Albertans prepare for rewarding careers in high-demand programs critical to Alberta’s economic recovery.
The New Beginnings Bursary will increase access to post-secondary education for students who face financial barriers. A total of 1,000 bursaries valued at $5,000 each will help recipients pay for tuition, fees, supplies, and living costs. Supports will be available to students studying key economic sectors identified in Alberta’s Recovery Plan, including energy, agriculture and forestry, tourism, culture, technology, aerospace and aviation, finance, and financial technology.
As always, we love to hear from you.