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Alberta

Alberta drivers to feel some relief from crushing energy prices

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Providing relief for fuel and utility costs

Albertans will see lower fuel and utility bills through action to address rising costs.

Alberta’s government will stop the collection of the provincial fuel tax to offer Albertans relief from current high fuel prices. Currently, Albertans pay 13 cents per litre in fuel tax. This change will come into effect April 1.

The federal carbon tax rate on gasoline is set to increase again on April 1, from just under nine cents per litre to just over 11 cents per litre.

“We’ve heard Albertans’ concerns about the rising cost of living loud and clear. While the federal government is set to increase the carbon tax April 1, Alberta’s government is taking the opposite approach and stepping up to offer relief. Stopping the provincial fuel tax puts money back in the pockets of Albertans when they need it most.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Many Albertans expressed concerns about increasing prices on everyday goods when I consulted with them ahead of this year’s budget. The best thing government can do during inflationary times is to spend less, borrow less and tax less. That’s why today we are introducing new measures to help with the cost of fuel by reducing the provincial fuel tax, providing much-needed relief to everyday Albertans.”

Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

Alberta’s government will also provide $150 electricity rebates to help Albertans pay for the high bills they faced this winter. More than one million homes, farms and businesses are expected to receive a $50 monthly rebate for three months. These retroactive rebates will help defray the high costs that many families and businesses paid in recent months.

Alberta’s government will work with utilities and regulators to determine exact details, including rebate timing. This includes working to have the rebates applied directly to consumers’ bills.

This rebate will combine with the Natural Gas Rebate program announced in Budget 2022 to provide real relief for Albertans.

“Utility prices are in part due to market conditions, and in part due to punishing policies from the former provincial government and the federal government. As our government works hard to responsibly manage system costs, we are also working tirelessly to increase generation investments to bring new supply on to the market. As this long-term work continues, a rebate to help offset these costs for Alberta families and small businesses will help provide support when they need it most.”

Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity

Collection of the fuel tax will be paused for:

  • gasoline – $0.13 per litre
  • diesel – $0.13 per litre
  • marked gasoline and marked diesel – $0.04

Because the GST also applies to provincial fuel taxes, the 13-cent reduction will also reduce the GST by 0.65 cents per litre, for total tax savings of about 13.6 cents per litre of gasoline and diesel.

The government will review the collection of the fuel tax on a quarterly basis and, if required, consider reinstating collection in stages, based on the average price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) over a number of weeks. The government will not start to reinstate collection before July 1.

Alberta’s fuel tax is reported and remitted by refiners and large wholesalers and included in the price Albertans pay at the pump. The government will provide information for stakeholders, including fuel retailers, on the fuel tax pause.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Post-secondary schools must report on free speech efforts on campus, minister says

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Edmonton – The Alberta government says it will require post-secondary institutions to report annually on their efforts to protect free speech on campus.

A news release from the Department of Advanced Education does not detail exactly what must be included in these reports, or say what the consequences would be if the requirements are not met.

Minister Demetrios Nicolaides signalled changes were coming earlier this week after the University of Lethbridge reversed its decision to host a speech by a former Mount Royal University professor whose comments on residential schools have drawn fierce criticism.

Frances Widdowson was fired from Mount Royal in late 2021 after she spoke of the educational benefits of residential schools while questioning whether abuses at the institutions amounted to cultural genocide.

Widdowson’s campus speech this week was to centre on concerns that a mob mentality and “woke policies” increasingly threaten academic freedom.

The Alberta government says the latest move builds on its earlier work in 2019, when it required all 26 publicly funded post-secondary institutions in Alberta to either endorse the Chicago Principles on free expression, or develop a policy consistent with them.

“It is abundantly clear that more needs to be done to ensure our institutions are adequately protecting free speech,” Nicolaides said in a written statement Friday.

Alberta’s post-secondary institutions should be bastions of free speech and academic freedom that promote critical thinking. I will continue to explore greater steps we can take to strengthen free speech on campus.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.

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Alberta

Overdose prevention services in Red Deer will soon transition to a mobile site operated by Alberta Health Services

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Next steps for Red Deer overdose prevention site

Alberta’s government continues to make overdose prevention services available across the province while also ensuring the safety of communities and neighbourhoods is a top priority. Alberta’s government will be working in partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Turning Point over the next three to six months to implement the transition to a mobile overdose prevention site operated by AHS.

This transition is necessary to respond to the changing needs in Red Deer while improving the standard of service delivery at the overdose prevention site. Alberta’s government will continue working closely with the City of Red Deer and the broader community to put the safety and security of the community first while continuing to provide overdose prevention services in a professional manner.

“Overdose prevention services are healthcare services that must meet quality standards to ensure the safety of the community and a high-standard of care. Alberta Health Services is an accountable and proven operator that has experience managing these services across Alberta. My ministry will be working closely with AHS and the current operator over the next few months to smoothly transition these operations, ensuring there are no gaps in service for clients of the services.”

Nicholas Milliken, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

“We appreciate the leadership of the government of Alberta in this area. We thank Turning Point for their service and the lives saved over the past several years. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Red Deerians is a top priority, and we are confident this new AHS-operated mobile site will continue to meet the needs of our residents.”

Ken Johnston, Mayor of Red Deer

Once the transition occurs, the new AHS-operated mobile unit will initially operate at the same location as the current overdose prevention site. Alberta’s government will continue to work with the City of Red Deer, and may change the location of the service within Red Deer based on input from the municipality ­and the changing needs of the community.

As with all overdose prevention services in the province, this mobile unit will be regulated and be required to meet the quality standards outlined in the Recovery-oriented Supervised Consumption Standards in order to be licensed. Overdose prevention site service providers must also demonstrate clearly defined referral pathways to detox, treatment and recovery services, as well as primary health-care services.

Alberta’s government is continuing to build a recovery-oriented system of care, where everyone struggling with addiction and mental health challenges is supported in their pursuit of recovery. This includes adding more than 9,000 new publicly funded treatment spaces, eliminating fees for residential addiction treatment, launching the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) app and expanding opioid agonist treatment.

Quick facts

  • To be licensed, supervised consumption site service providers need to follow requirements related to:
  • the safety and security of clients, employees and the surrounding community
  • standardized data collection
  • staff qualifications and training
  • clinical practice standards
  • good neighbour agreements
  • physical site requirements, such as having access to washrooms for clients
  • Health Canada is responsible for granting exemptions under Section 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow supervised consumption sites to operate. Overdose prevention sites require a similar exemption under Section 56(1) of the act or a letter of authorization from the Government of Alberta under the authority of the province’s class exemption.
  • Alberta spends more than $1 billion annually on addiction and mental health care and supports, including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.
  • Any Albertan struggling with addiction can contact 211 Alberta to connect with local services and virtual supports. 211 is free, confidential and available 24-7.
  • The Virtual Opioid Dependency Program provides same-day access to addiction medicine physicians and life-saving medications to Albertans across the province. Albertans can call 1-844-383-7688 seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
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