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Affordability – Alberta’s Top Priority

Posted on July 9, 2024 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Nathan Neudorf
Minister of Affordability and Utilities

It should come as no surprise that addressing the cost of living is a top priority for the UCP government. After all, creating the new Ministry of Affordability and Utilities was one of the first things Danielle Smith did after becoming the Premier.

Alberta’s government has taken an all-government approach as we continue to build on existing affordability measures. Our government’s Affordability Action Plan has already helped measurably lower the rate of inflation for Albertans. In addition to the over $5 billion that our government spent on affordability efforts since 2022, more than $1.5 billion is committed this year to support Albertans with the cost-of-living.

Albertans have the lowest overall taxes in Canada with no PST, no payroll tax or health premium, as well as a low provincial income tax that about 40 per cent of Alberta tax filers don’t pay. As promised, we expanded the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act to protect Albertans and Alberta businesses against future income tax hikes, with nearly a billion dollars going towards indexing personal income taxes this year alone.

Alberta’s fuel tax relief program saves Albertans on gas and diesel when oil prices are high. With that, Alberta’s government is also taking action on high auto insurance rates by introducing price protections.

For Alberta’s families, our government is expanding accessible, affordable and high-quality childcare for families by reducing childcare fees, increasing subsidy eligibility, and creating thousands more childcare spaces. We also invested $12 million in increased tax breaks and subsidies to help cover the costs of adoptions in Alberta, reducing adoption
costs by as much as 50 per cent.

Supporting families and children in the province goes beyond the household as well. Alberta’s government is making kids’ sport and recreation activities more accessible and affordable through the Every Kid Can Play Program and investing $30 million in new funding for sport and recreation facilities. More than $24 million is going to help school authorities cover higher transportation costs and ensure more funding for student transportation this year. Through the School Nutrition Program, we are ensuring more than 58,000 Alberta students have access to quality, nutritious meals. Students are Alberta’s future, and training homegrown talent in-province is essential to keeping the Alberta advantage. That’s why our government has dedicated $86 million to support post-secondary students, capped domestic tuition increases at two per cent, extended the interest-free grace period for student loans, and more.

Protecting and supporting vulnerable Albertans, including seniors, is top of mind when it comes to addressing affordability. This includes over $400 million in supports such as indexing financial benefits like AISH to inflation, increased wages in the social sector, and rent assistance programs.

We followed through on our campaign promise for a senior’s discount, providing them with a 25 per cent discount on personal registry services.

Housing, food, and utilities are basic necessities, not luxury goods. That’s why our government continues to focus on lowering Albertans’ bills.

Alberta’s government continues to encourage new residential housing construction by reducing red tape and supporting innovative strategies to build more homes faster. Together with its partners, Alberta is supporting $9 billion in investments into affordable housing to support 25,000 additional low income households by 2031.

This spring, we also passed legislation to promote more housing development, which included exempting non-profit affordable housing from property taxes, encouraging more homes to be built while driving down costs.

Alberta is building more homes, resulting in almost 14,000 new housing starts in the first four months of the year – a historic record for the province.

Our government is also continuing to strengthen our agricultural sector and invest in funding for food banks, helping ensure Albertans have access to affordable, high-quality food.

Alberta’s government is reviewing the province’s entire electricity system as we work to help lower Albertans’
utility bills. Our government has already taken action by providing nearly a billion dollars in monthly power bill rebates.

We’re restricting the practice of economic withholding, which is estimated to save Albertans more than $8 billion over the next decade. This spring, we also passed the Utilities Affordability Statutes Amendment Act, which will lower and stabilize local access fees on utility bills, saving the average Calgarian $145 annually, with families on the Rate of
Last Resort saving $937 per year.

Our government is committed to ensuring our province continues to generate reliable and affordable power and these changes are just the start.

However, affordability must be addressed by all levels of government – federal, provincial, and municipal. It is unacceptable for municipalities to be raking in hundreds of millions in surplus revenue off the backs of Alberta’s ratepayers. Albertans need and deserve their fair share of federal funding for housing. And one of the main contributors to rising costs in Canada continues to be the federal carbon tax.

Alberta’s low-tax, business-friendly environment, combined with our government’s ongoing red tape reduction and
affordability measures, are helping keep life affordable for everyday Albertans.

Our government is working tirelessly to lower the cost-of-living, and keep Alberta the best place to call home.

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