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Alberta Q1 budget update a VERY nice surprise

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Q1 update: Alberta’s Recovery Plan is working

The government’s economic outlook has dramatically improved over the first three months of the fiscal year, confirming that Alberta’s Recovery Plan to diversify the economy and create jobs is working.

As of July, Alberta added 73,000 jobs since the beginning of the year and has now recovered nearly 90 per cent of the jobs lost when the pandemic first took hold in the province.

Real gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 6.7 per cent in 2021, up significantly from the budget forecast of 4.8 per cent. Many economic forecasters, including the Conference Board of Canada and some of the largest Canadian banks, predict Alberta will lead all provinces in growth this year.

“After a historically challenging year, Alberta’s economy is already witnessing signs of recovery and growth. While this indicates Alberta’s Recovery Plan is working, we know there is still more to do to create jobs and restore Alberta’s place as the economic driver of the nation. We will continue to bring spending in line with that of other provinces, attract more investment and get Albertans back to work.”

Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

Increased investment and economic activity has led to the unemployment rate falling to 8.5 per cent, the lowest since the pandemic started.

Oilsands production has risen more than eight per cent in the first half of the year with a quick rebound in bitumen output and drilling activity in June and July – exceeding 2019 levels. Non-energy investment is forecast to grow at about five per cent each year in 2021 and 2022, and will return to 2019 levels this year.

Fiscal situation

Despite these improvements in Alberta’s economy, a sizeable deficit remains, and Alberta’s current fiscal situation is still unsustainable. Alberta will pay $2.6 billion in debt servicing costs this year, which is more than it spends on all but four government departments. With no debt, these taxpayer dollars could be spent on education, health care and other public services.

While the recent increase in energy prices is encouraging, Alberta’s government is aware the situation can change rapidly and the year is far from over. There have been dramatic fluctuations over the past year and a half. Instead of relying on volatile resource revenue, government must control spending.

Alberta’s government continues to hold three fiscal anchors to guide decision-making:

  1. Keeping net debt below 30 per cent of GDP.
  2. Aligning per capita spending with comparator provinces.
  3. Setting a time frame for balancing the budget once the government has a clear picture of the long-term global impacts of the pandemic.

Quick facts

  • The deficit for 2021-22 is forecast at $7.8 billion, $10.5 billion lower than reported in the budget.
  • The revenue forecast for 2021-22 is $55 billion, $11.3 billion higher than reported in the budget.
  • Expense is forecast at $62.7 billion, up $0.8 billion from the budget.
  • Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast at $105.7 billion on March 31, 2022, which is $4.9 billion lower than estimated in the budget.
  • The net debt-to-GDP ratio will be an estimated 19.6 per cent at the end of the fiscal year, well below the province’s goal of 30 per cent.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Andew Clews challenging Education Minister Adriana LaGrange for Red Deer North UCP Nomination

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Submitted by Andrew Clews

Hello, my name is Andrew Clews. I wanted to share with you who I am, my values, what motivates me, and why I am running for the United Conservative Party nomination for the Red Deer North constituency.

The most important thing in my life is my faith in God. I am not perfect. I need grace, and I know that God’s grace has saved me from my sins. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. As a follower of Jesus, I am called to live by truth. I am telling you these things, not to evangelize to you, but to let you know where I am coming from, and what values motivate me.

Because my faith requires that I live by truth, I find my values increasingly in conflict with a society built on lies.

As I write this, I can tell you, this is not what I had planned for my life. I have a great career and a beautiful family. I had never given much thought to running in provincial politics, but in 2021 as the Delta wave was hitting Alberta, and vaccine mandates were put in place municipally, provincially, federally, and at our places of work, I found myself in a position of leadership in the freedom community.

I remember quite clearly having two conversations that have changed my life forever. These conversations were almost identical.

I was speaking to a friend and industry colleague over the phone. I was asking him about these vaccine mandates, and he told me that he was not vaccinated, didn’t want to get vaccinated, but he didn’t have much choice, and was probably going to be forced to get it. We talked for a little while, and I told him that when you are faced with a problem that you feel has but one choice, there is usually a better option out there, you just need to find it. At the end of the conversation, I
heard relief in his voice, he thanked me for letting him know that he was not alone, and he said he would hold off on getting the vaccine.

The next day I had another conversation almost identical with a co-worker of mine. Same result. He and his family were going to hold off.

I realized at that moment that there were so many people out there who felt alone, and all we needed to do was find them, and give them support and encouragement.

This was the genesis of a community that I co-founded called Hold the Line.

By building Hold The Line from a core group of 5 members, to a community of over 1,000 Central Alberta citizens, I learned what leadership was. Leadership meant talking to a lot of people, reminding them that they are not alone, and giving them the support they needed to avoid violating their conscience.

My time with Hold The Line also taught me a lot about our province’s education system. Listening to the members of our community, I realized that our public school system increasingly does not represent the values of Albertan families. Parents are concerned about delays in their children’s development, both academically and socially because of school closures, masking, and restrictions on play. Kids need play, and our government took that from them.

Worst of all, what is happening to our children’s mental health is completely unacceptable. I was speaking to a friend the other day, and he was telling me heartbreaking stories of childhood depression and suicide within his community.

Some school boards are even hiring additional counselors because of the mental health crisis facing our kids.

We were told that if the lockdowns saved just one life, they would be worth it. Someone should have stopped to consider the completely foreseeable consequences of these lockdowns. We are seeing them now, and we will be dealing with the aftermath for a generation.

Our province has suffered greatly due to a lack of leadership in the Alberta Legislature. We as Albertans elect smooth talking career politicians, with great talking points. The problem is these career politicians don’t have the courage and leadership to follow through and do what they promised.

What I have learned through the last two years of lockdowns and vaccine mandates is that I do have the leadership and courage to speak truth, and follow through with my promises. I have done it, and I did it when the world was against me.

My Policy:

Alberta First

I will put Alberta first. Alberta’s relationship with Ottawa is at an all-time low. Over the last thirty years, we have transferred over $600 billion to Ottawa, Trudeau’s climate policy has increased the cost of living for everyday Albertans, and he has abused the use of Canada’s Emergency Act.

Various candidates running to be our next premier have proposed their plans to bolster Alberta’s sovereignty within Canada. As your MLA, I will work with our next premier to restore Alberta’s sovereignty and put Alberta First.

School Choice

The current school funding model has given the public school system a monopoly on our children’s education. For some parents, the public school system aligns with their values. For others, it does not.

Parents deserve to have their children educated in an environment that aligns with their values. My vision for education in Alberta is for school funding to follow your child, whether they enroll in public, private, home school, or even learning pods.

Protection of Rights

We need representatives in the legislature who will stand up for the rights of Albertans. I believe the following steps must immediately be taken to restore the rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
– Reform the Public Health Act to limit the power of the Chief Medical Health Officer
– Implement a public education campaign with the purpose of educating our society in the Canadian Charter. A self-goverend people who do not understand their rights are sure to lose them.

For my full policy, please visit my website: www.andrewclews.ca

The Nomination Election

The nomination election for the UCP Red Deer North constituency has been scheduled for:

– August 18, 2022
– 11:00am-8:00pm
– The Pines Community Hall
– 141 Pamely Avenue

To be eligible to vote, you must be a UCP member of Red Deer North for 21 consecutive days prior to the vote, and have photo ID to verify your address.

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Alberta

City of Calgary says it could cost millions to repair damage to municipal building

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Calgary – City officials say it could cost more than two million dollars to repair the Calgary Municipal Building after someone broke in and set fires that triggered the sprinkler system earlier this month.

Carla Male, who’s the acting city manager, says in a news release that there’s extensive water damage on three floors of the building.

It includes the equipment on those floors and the building itself.

Male says it will be several months before the final bill is in, but the initial review shows it could cost between $1.3 and $2.2 million.

The tally includes the emergency response required to minimize the damage as well as the relocation of services and restoration of the building, furniture and equipment.

The city expects 80 per cent of the costs to be covered by insurance.

Alberta’s police watchdog continues to investigate the arrest of a man who’s accused of breaking into the building on Aug. 2.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has said that police tried to talk to the man, but were unsuccessful.

It says several officers fired non-lethal weapons and the man was arrested with the help of a dog team.

ASIRT says the man was transported to hospital after “sustaining significant injury” during that arrest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2022.

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