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Alberta

Province planning “Heroes Fund” to help families of first responders who die on duty

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From the Province of Alberta

Supporting Alberta’s heroes and their families

Creating the Alberta’s Heroes Fund will improve benefits for the families of fallen first responders and recognize their noble service.

Bill 47, Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape, will allow Alberta’s government to follow through on its commitment to create the Heroes Fund. Alberta’s government will honour the sacrifices of first responders who die as a result of performing their duties. The Heroes Fund will provide a one-time tax-free payment of $100,000 to eligible families through the Workers’ Compensation Board.

“There is no higher form of public service than to risk one’s life to maintain public safety. While nothing can replace a loved one, the Heroes Fund will provide families with extra support and improved benefits while honouring the brave and valiant service of Alberta’s fallen heroes.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“First responders commit their lives to serving their communities and we must honour their heroic work and ensure their loved ones have the support they need. Our government committed to ensuring families of Alberta’s fallen heroes are supported, and while I wish this fund wasn’t needed, today we are delivering on our promise to honour them and the sacrifices they’ve made.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Labour and Immigration

Eligible first responders include firefighters, police officers, paramedics, sheriffs and provincial corrections officers. Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) will administer the Heroes Fund and will begin identifying eligible families and administering payments, which are retroactive to April 1, 2020.

“Day in and day out, our members put their health and safety on the line to help Albertans often during the most difficult times in their lives. First responders understand that this is our calling, this is what we do. We acknowledge the inherent risk of our profession and do what we can to mitigate risk. Unfortunately, risk cannot always be mitigated, and every year we see firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers who are killed from job-related injuries, occupational disease, or mental health struggles. The Alberta Fire Fighters Association would like to take this opportunity to applaud the Government of Alberta for the Heroes Fund. While this fund will never replace the void from the loss of a loved one, it will help ease the inevitable financial hardships caused by those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Brad Readman, president, Alberta Fire Fighters Association

“First responders are charged with the significant responsibility of upholding safety in our communities and protecting citizens, often placing their lives in danger. Losing a loved one in the line of duty is a tragedy many of us are lucky to be unfamiliar with, but for those who must live with that grief and its many hardships, this fund provides much-needed support and commemoration of heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Dale McFee, president, Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police

“As a former sergeant with the Calgary Police Service, I was honoured to serve with many brave police officers, firefighters, and paramedics in the City of Calgary. I know first-hand how our first responders put their lives on the line every day in the service of Albertans and I am proud that our government is fulfilling our commitment to create a Heroes Fund. Our government is taking concrete action to give the families of our fallen heroes the help they need in difficult times.”

Mike Ellis, chief government whip, and MLA for Calgary-West

“I’m proud to be part of a government that delivers on its promises and stands up for first responders and their families. As a former paramedic firefighter, I understand the sacrifices first responders make to serve their communities and answer the call to service. I wish everyone could return home safely at the end of the day, but for those who pay the ultimate price serving their communities, the creation of this fund will make a difference in the lives of family members when they need it most. Establishing this fund will make Alberta the only province with a program of this type to honour and pay tribute to the families of first responders.”

Tany Yao, MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo

Quick facts

  • Budget 2020 commits $1.5 million per year for the Heroes Fund for three years, starting in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
  • Alberta is the only province with a program of this type for families of fallen first responders.
  • Heroes Fund payments are separate from regular workers’ compensation fatality benefits.
  • The Heroes Fund will take effect when Bill 47 receives royal assent.
  • There were 106 Alberta first responder fatalities between 2010 and 2019.
    • 90 per cent of these were firefighters due to occupational illness.
  • Albertans are served by:
    • More than 14,000 full-time, part-time, casual and volunteer firefighters. About 80 per cent are volunteers.
    • More than 7,500 police officers.
    • More than 9,400 paramedics.

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Alberta

Kenney touts 'Alberta is back' in first speech to Calgary Chamber since 2019

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CALGARY — Premier Jason Kenney used his first address to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce since the start of the pandemic to tout the recovery of Alberta’s economy amid high energy prices.

Saying that ‘Alberta is back’, he noted that in the first quarter next year the provincial GDP is expected to finally surpass the level it was in 2014 before a crash in oil prices pushed the province into recession.

He says that is a sharp turnaround from the early days of the pandemic when unemployment hit 25 per cent and for close to 10 weeks the province was unable to sell an Alberta government bond.

Kenney says the recovery has been helped by an increase in demand for oil and gas, but argues that it’s not part of a roller-coaster in commodities because rising prices show the continued importance of energy.

He used the address to emphasize his United Conservative government’s strategy of low taxes to attract investment, noting that the province accelerated its corporate tax cut to make it the lowest in Canada.

Kenney also says his government is focused on attracting more people to the province to boost its labour pool through initiatives like rapid certification programs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta government passes rules on election dates, financing as fall sitting wraps up

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EDMONTON — The Alberta government has wrapped up its fall sitting, with Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives debating long into the night to pass an election financing bill.

The bill makes multiple changes, including placing a cap on contributions to party nominees and setting a fixed election date in late May.

But critics, including the Opposition NDP and some UCP backbenchers, say the legislation opens the door to wealthy donors bulk-buying memberships — a threat that would allow big money to tip the scales in internal party contests.

NDP critic Thomas Dang says the move props up an embattled Kenney as he faces unrest in the party’s ranks and a leadership review in the spring.

Government House Leader Jason Nixon dismissed the criticism, saying governments should not dictate how political parties or private clubs conduct internal affairs.

Nixon says UCP bylaws make it clear that people can only buy memberships for themselves or for spouses and young family members.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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