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Apply for Provincial Inflation Relief: Portal for families, seniors, vulnerable Albertans opens January 18

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Inflation relief portal and payments coming soon

Monthly $100 affordability payments for families, seniors, and vulnerable Albertans will be released soon, and Albertans can act now to get ready.

Alberta’s economy has recovered strongly, but many people are struggling to heat their homes and feed their families. Alberta’s government has responded with the largest inflation relief package in Canada, with significant broad-based and targeted supports. Starting this month, six months of affordability payments will begin for Albertans through an application and distribution system that is fast, effective and safe.

Starting January 18, seniors 65 or older who are not receiving the Alberta Seniors Benefit and eligible parents with children under 18 can apply online through the government portal or in person at locations across the province for $600 in monthly affordability payments.

In order to use the portal, eligible parents and seniors will be required to have a Verified Account. To ensure that the application process is as smooth as possible, Albertans should sign-up for their Verified Account or confirm they have an existing Verified Account with accurate information as soon as possible.

Many Albertans receiving these targeted relief payments are automatically enrolled for the program and do not need to apply to receive the benefit.

Along with Foster and Kinship Caregivers, anyone currently receiving regular monthly benefits through Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), Income Support or Alberta Seniors Benefit, or receiving services through the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program will automatically receive their first payment starting January 31.

Affordability payments for AISH, Income Support and PDD clients

All clients accessing AISH, Income Support or PDD are automatically enrolled in the program and do not need to sign up to receive their benefits. They will receive their first $100 payments starting January 31.

  • Payments will be delivered the same way as a client’s regular monthly benefits, whether by automatic deposit or a physical cheque.
  • Payments will be delivered by physical cheque for existing PDD clients who are not receiving AISH or Income Support benefits.
  • Beneficiaries will also be notified directly about their enrollment in the payment program and related information.
  • These payments will be treated as exempt income by the AISH and Income Support programs and will not impact eligibility or financial benefits.
  • Parents in these programs with children under 18 can also receive $600 in additional payments per child. They will need to apply online or in person for these payments starting January 18.

Affordability payments for seniors

All Albertans 65 or older with household incomes below $180,000 will soon be eligible for $600 over six months in monthly affordability payments.

Albertans receiving the Alberta Seniors Benefit are automatically enrolled in the program and do not need to sign up to receive their benefits. The distribution of additional monthly payments will begin January 31.

Eligible seniors who are not receiving the Alberta Seniors Benefit will need to apply for affordability payments by creating or confirming their Verified Account and applying for benefits via the online portal or in person at a registry office or through Alberta Supports when the portal opens on January 18.

Affordability payments for parents or guardians caring for children under 18

Families with household incomes below $180,000 per year will soon receive a total of $600 for each dependent child under 18 over six months. Eligible parents can apply for affordability payments by creating or confirming their Verified Account and applying for benefits via the online portal or in person at a registry office or through Alberta Supports when the portal opens on January 18.

Affordability payments for foster and kinship caregivers caring for children under 18

Eligible kinship or foster caregivers caring for a child under the age of 18 are automatically enrolled in the program and do not need to sign up to receive their affordability payments. They will receive their first payments at the end of January.

  • Payments will be delivered the same way as regular monthly benefits, whether by automatic deposit or physical cheque.
  • Monthly payments will be rolled out starting January 31.

Alberta’s government is delivering immediate cost of living and inflation relief while also working to support long-term affordability. Albertans can learn more about all the broad-based and targeted affordability relief programs online.

Quick facts:

  • Alberta’s government will use CRA 2021 tax data to verify eligibility based on income.
  • Applications can be submitted until June 30, with payments being retroactive to include previous months when a person was eligible.
  • Once the application process is successfully completed, most Albertans will receive payments at the end of that month. Exact timing will vary for each individual.
  • Alberta has had verified accounts since 2015 as a way for Albertans to safely and securely access a growing number of government services.
  • As with all online accounts, Albertans should use strong passwords and not share their password with anyone else. Tips on how to create a strong password are available on the Government of Alberta site.
  • The Alberta government will not send texts or emails asking Albertans to submit personal or banking information to receive payments.

Additional information, including a video and answers to questions, is available at alberta.ca/affordable.

“Our government is committed to keeping Alberta affordable. By the end of January, most Alberta seniors and families will be able to apply for and receive monthly affordability payments that will provide real relief and help to offset inflationary pressures.”

Matt Jones, Minister of Affordability and Utilities
Alberta’s government has heard loud and clear that families, seniors and vulnerable Albertans need relief, and the approach we’ve taken ensures they get that support now. We have designed a secure system that will allow eligible Albertans to apply for benefits quickly and easy. Our top priorities during development of the inflation relief portal were privacy, security and accessibility. I’m proud of the work our civil servants have done over the last two months to bring this much-needed program to life.”
Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation

“As we all know, rising prices are putting pressure on household budgets, making it harder for families to pay their bills. Alberta’s government refuses to allow children to pay the price of inflation. The inflation relief payment will help reduce some of the financial pressures on Alberta families so that all parents, including foster and kinship caregivers, will not have to choose between buying food and paying bills. We are hoping that this additional support will allow kids to be kids and enjoy the fun activities they love.”

Mickey Amery, Minister of Children’s Services

“Affordability for Albertans is a top priority for our government, especially for seniors and those living with disabilities. With critical steps such as targeted relief payments, we are helping millions of individuals and families meet their basic needs and offset the impact of today’s inflation.”

Jeremy Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Writer opposing Free Alberta Strategy in national article confuses chartered banks with financial institutions

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From the Free Alberta Strategy Team

In a new article published in the federal-government-funded “The Conversation” publication, Robert L. Ascah, a researcher at the also-federal-government-funded Parkland Institute, attempts to lay the hatchet to the Free Alberta Strategy.

In his piece, entitled “What the Free Alberta Strategy gets wrong about Canada’s banking system,” Mr. Ascah argues that the Alberta Independent Banking Act that is proposed in the Free Alberta Strategy report is unconstitutional because banking is an entirely federal area of jurisdiction.

Here is the key quote from Mr. Ascah:

“The Free Alberta Strategy, however, purports to allow Alberta to incorporate and regulate banks, which is clearly unconstitutional. There’s no mention that this proposal is beyond the powers of the provincial legislature.”

But, as so often seems to happen, this latest Free Alberta Strategy critic clearly doesn’t appear to have read – or taken the time to understand – what the Free Alberta Strategy is actually proposing.

While it’s true that “chartered banks” are federally regulated, that doesn’t mean that any type or form of “banking”, as the term is colloquially used, must be federally regulated.

Credit unions, for example, offer “banking” services, while not being “chartered banks” that are federally regulated.

This definition, while technical, is the crux of the issue.

And while we admit that this is very technical, when you’re talking about writing laws, technicalities matter a lot.

To be clear, here is the exact proposal from the Free Alberta Strategy report itself:

1. Expanding the number of provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions;

2. Promoting private ownership of these new financial institutions; and

3. Mandating that all provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions (including ATB) remain compliant with the Alberta Sovereignty Act as it relates to the non-enforcement of federal laws and court decisions deemed to infringe unduly on Alberta’s provincial jurisdiction.

You will note, very clearly, that this proposal in our Free Alberta Strategy report talks about “provincially regulated financial institutions” not “chartered banks”.

This is because the authors of the strategy understand (unlike Mr. Ascah, apparently) that while “chartered banks” must be regulated by the federal government, “financial institutions” can be regulated by the provincial government.

This is exactly why our Free Alberta Strategy report suggests modelling any new “banks” in Alberta on ATB Financial (previously known as Alberta Treasury Branches), which is a long-standing Alberta financial institution.

(Note: Although ATB is a crown corporation, our proposal envisages privately owned and operated financial institutions, not more government-owned and operated financial institutions. Just in case anyone was worried we were suddenly advocating for bigger government!)

Just as Alberta’s credit unions are not “chartered banks” and so are not federally regulated, ATB Financial is not a “chartered bank”, and so it is not regulated by the federal government.

ATB Financial is a “financial institution” that is provincially regulated by the Alberta government under the ATB Financial Act.

This is precisely what the Free Alberta Strategy report proposes – an increase in the number of provincially regulated financial institutions in Alberta.

We can clearly see then that, despite the claim by Mr. Ascah that provincial regulation of banking is unconstitutional, the mere existence of ATB is proof that our proposal is, in fact, constitutional.

The remainder of Mr. Ascah’s article goes on to argue that if Alberta unconstitutionally incorporated its own new “chartered banks”, the federal government would cut those banks off from being able to transfer funds to other banks in Canada, making them impractical for the public to use.

Maybe it’s true that the federal government would cut off any unauthorized provincial “chartered banks” from payment mechanisms.

But, given no one is proposing Alberta incorporate its own new “chartered banks”, this entire second half of the article is an irrelevant straw man argument.

Again, the Free Alberta Strategy proposes to incorporate new provincially regulated financial institutions, like ATB.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, ATB has not been cut off from being able to transfer funds to other banks by the federal government, because – shock – the existence of ATB is perfectly constitutional.

The real question then, is whether or not the first half of Mr. Ascah’s article, where he claims we are proposing to do something unconstitutional, is simply a misunderstanding, or a deliberately misleading diatribe.

Either way, such a fundamental error really makes you wonder why the Parkland Institute would allow the article to be published at all!

Are Parkland Institute staff no longer expected to read the thing they are publicly criticizing anymore?

Are The Conversation editors no longer expected to check whether their authors have their facts straight?

Perhaps the oddest part of this whole situation is that the Parkland Institute, where Mr. Ascah works, has previously written about the benefits of having an Alberta-based, Alberta-regulated financial institution!

They did so in a report that goes into detail explaining the difference between federally regulated chartered banks and provincially regulated financial institutions!

Even stranger still – which Parkland Institute researcher do you think it was who wrote this report?

Yes, you guessed it, it was Robert L. Ascah!

It gets worse…

Once upon a time, Mr. Ascah worked at Alberta Treasury, the government department that is responsible for regulating ATB.

Then, after he worked at Alberta Treasury, Mr. Ascah went to work at ATB itself, where he was responsible for government relations, strategic planning, and economic research.

That’s right folks…

Our Free Alberta Strategy critic, who attacked us by claiming that provincially regulated financial institutions are unconstitutional, actually worked as a senior executive at both the organization he claims is unconstitutional, and the organization that is supposed to regulate the thing that he claims is unconstitutional.

We must either believe, then:

  • That Mr. Ascah, who has written about the benefits of provincially-regulated financial institutions, has worked for a provincially-regulated financial institution, and has worked for the organization that regulates provincially-regulated financial institutions, is somehow entirely unaware that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal.

Or, we must believe:

  • That Mr. Ascah perfectly understands that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal and that that is how ATB is established, but that it’s somehow, all of a sudden, now beneficial for him to pretend that he doesn’t, and that anyone suggesting other financial institutions be regulated in that way is suggesting something “unconstitutional”.

How could it possibly be beneficial for Mr. Ascah to pretend that this idea is unconstitutional all of a sudden, I hear you ask?

Well, the answer to that question is actually the least confusing part of his article.

Contained right at the bottom of the article, under “Disclosure statement” (and conveniently excluded from most re-publications of the piece by the media) are 9 little words:

“Robert (Bob) L. Ascah is affiliated with Alberta NDP.”

Of course, affiliated with is a little bit of an understatement in this case.

Mr. Ascah has donated thousands of dollars to the Alberta NDP for many years, while several of his Parkland Institute colleagues are actually running as Alberta NDP candidates in the 2023 Alberta election!

Now, as a non-partisan organization, we generally try to avoid pointing out the political affiliations of individual people.

As an organization, we base our support for ideas on whether the ideas are good or not, rather than on who is proposing them.

But, in this case, we’re not criticizing the person proposing the ideas, but the lack of independence and the conflict of interest inherent in a situation where federal-government-funded researchers are published by federal-government-funded websites and re-printed by federal-government-funded newspapers.

Unfortunately, in a world where government-funded academics get government funding to write government propaganda published in government-funded media, there’s really no incentive to cover the truth anymore.

As to why the federal government would want to fund researchers to write propaganda for them, and fund media outlets to publish it for them, we’ll leave that one to you to answer!

In the end, this is exactly why we need more independent research and independent distribution of ideas in our society.

The Free Alberta Strategy jealously guards our independence.

That’s why we never accept any money or resources from any government, regardless of political stripe.

But that’s also why we need your help.

We need your help so that we can continue to do research and analysis on ways in which Alberta can fight back, such as the Sovereignty Act.

We need your help to further our work to protect Alberta’s interests from a hostile and divisive federal government in Ottawa.

We need your help to grow our supporter, activist, and volunteer network across our great province.

We need your help to share our work with like-minded friends and family in order to get the word out to as many members of the public as possible.

If you’re ready to help, click here:

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Alberta

Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney accepts role in Calgary advising law firm

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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton

Jason Kenney, more than three months after stepping down as Alberta’s premier, has landed a new role as a Calgary-based adviser in law firm Bennett Jones.

Kenney, who is also a former federal cabinet minister, will work in the public policy group.

Kenney says on Twitter he looks forward to the new job and that his work won’t include lobbying the provincial government or its agencies.

He says Alberta’s ethics commissioner has signed off on his new role and Kenney says he won’t be accepting any other jobs without first checking with the commissioner.

Kenney announced last May he was stepping down as premier following a lukewarm 51 per cent vote of support in a United Conservative Party leadership review.

Kenney was instrumental in creating the UCP in a merger with his Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party, but he fell out of favour with many in the combined party over COVID-19 restrictions and what was seen as a top-down management style.

It was a not an amicable departure.

Kenney publicly clashed with his eventual successor, Premier Danielle Smith, over her plan to introduce sovereignty legislation to challenge what she considers federal intrusions into provincial areas of constitutional authority.

Kenney challenged the legality and economic effect of such a bill, and resigned as a legislature member on the day Smith’s sovereignty act was introduced last November.

Bennett Jones, with offices across Canada and in New York, said Kenney will provide advice on attracting investment in Canada’s energy sector and with Indigenous communities.

“I’m thrilled to be joining this iconic firm, which has both deep Alberta roots and a major national presence,” said Kenney in a statement Wednesday.

“Bennett Jones’ Public Policy group has the greatest policy depth of any Canadian law firm, and I look forward to working with several former colleagues from both senior elected and public service roles.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023

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