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Opinion

December 2019 progress report on Red Deer Air Quality, Are we serious about this?

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The fine particulate issue has been plaguing Red Deer for a decade. CBC did a story on Sept 9 2015 describing Red Deer’s air quality as the worst in Alberta which has the distinction of being the worst in Canada. A committee was established. This is part of their update.

December 2019

The Red Deer Fine Particulate Matter Implementation Progress Report (the report) provides an update on
the state of the management actions for fine particulate matter management in the Red Deer area. Alberta
Environment and Parks, and members of the Red Deer Air Quality Advisory Committee (the Advisory
Committee) developed three priority objectives to implement management actions to reduce fine particulate
matter (PM2.5) levels in the Red Deer Air Management Area. This report, therefore, presents highlights of
the progress of the Advisory Committee and its represented stakeholders have made in implementing the
Red Deer Fine Particulate Matter Response (the response).

The Red Deer area exceeded both the Canada-wide Standards (CWS) and the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). In 2015 the Advisory Committee was
established and charged with working to reduce the ambient levels of PM2.5 in the Red Deer Air Quality Management Area by implementing a management response. The response was released in April 2016 for implementation over 15 years.

The response contains three objectives: Action, Investigation, and
Engagement. Each objective contains management actions that the Advisory Committee can implement in
three phases: Phase 1, ending December 2020; Phase 2, ending December 2025; and Phase 3, ending
December 2030.

Purpose
The purpose of this report is to provide an update on the efforts to implement the response within the three
priority objectives that have informed the activities of Alberta Environment and Parks and the multistakeholder group to date. The three objectives are: Objective 1 (Action), Objective 2 (Investigation), and Objective 3 (Engagement).
The response is currently in Phase 1 of implementation (2015 – 2020). This report highlights the progress made since the implementation of the response in 2016, any additional priorities identified, actions to achieve by the conclusion of Phase 1 (in 2020), and the context that informs the path forward. For more
information on these objectives, please refer to the response. The goal of the response is to reduce ambient fine particulate matter concentrations and remain below the CAAQS, as measured at ambient air quality monitoring stations within the Red Deer Air Quality Management Area.

The science report identified transportation as a major source of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and VOCs. Transportation related sources release these gasses and in turn lead to the formation of secondary PM2.5 in Red Deer. Additional investigation, specifically Provincial Air Quality Photochemical Modelling 4 continues to highlight transportation-related sources as a significant contributor to emissions that result in the formation of PM2.5. Transportation related sources include on-road and off-road sources. A wide range
of vehicles, engines and equipment types including personal and commercial vehicles, and combustion driven lawn and garden equipment contribute to transportation related emissions. Transportation related sources are concentrated near population centers.

There is more to this report but I would like to respond.

We all know that the city is trying, greening the fleet, idle-free zones, LED bulbs etc. but there are those who believe that air quality is not that important.

For example; Don’t idle but do drive 4 extra kilometres and 6 minutes longer through residential neighbourhoods and school zones. I am talking about the immediate pressing issue of the Molly Banister Extension.

We have discussed the economic costs of not extending Molly Banister with widening roads, traffic circles, pedestrian bridges and other secondary roads. We talked about business commitments to Bower Mall and south west businesses being overturned. We talked about building 6 lane roads through residential areas and school playgrounds.

We talked about building a bridge over a creek in a cow pasture that has been fenced preventing access to pedestrians and wildlife for decades.

Now we shall talk about air quality.

Thousands of cars driving 4 extra kilometres and 6 extra minutes everyday, 3,000 x 4 x 365 =4,380,000 kms per year and that is a minimal estimate. 23,500 cars per day on 32 Street servicing many neighbourhoods along 32 St. and also along 22 St.

We are talking about bridging the Piper Creek for vehicular traffic to reduce commuting.

Less commuting. Less emissions. Better air quality. Is that not the goal?

 

 

Political editor/writer and retired oilfield supervisor

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Opinion

Middle Class

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The Middle Class

The middle class.

This phrase is shrouded in mystery but typically refers to ones occupation, income, education and social status in relation to others.

Depending on the political party using the term, the underlying definition can change.

The Liberal Party has an entire section of it’s 2019 election platform dedicated to the middle class and people working hard to join it.

Unfortunately, the Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity has had difficulties defining the characteristics of the people she was elected to represent.

Excuse me if I’m a little concerned that the middle class might be forgotten as a result.

Tax Free

Making Life More Affordable

Any claims of government giving anything to citizens “tax free” should be met with scrutiny.

All government funding ultimately comes from taxpayers so to suggest that government can give you tax free funds is simply not accurate. Someone is being taxed in order to provide the benefits.

Effective for 2016 tax filings, the Liberal Government lowered the tax rate on income in the 2nd tax bracket by 1.5%. This bracket currently applies to income between $48,535 to $97,069. All other brackets have either remained the same or increased since that time.

For those earning up to the maximum of $97,069, this results in tax savings of $1,456.

In conjunction with the 1.5% tax drop, the Liberal Government removed the Family Tax Cut (FTC). This allowed families with children to notionally transfer income from the spouse with higher annual income to the other spouse.

Depending on your situation, this could result in a tax credit of up to $2,000.

Effective in 2019, the Liberal Government implemented an increase in the Canada Pension Plan annual rates. By 2023, this will result in additional annual employee contributions of $1,107 for those earning above the annual ceiling of $65,700.

The employer portion would increase in proportion, putting further pressure on small business cash flows.

While the Liberal Government may claim that they are “making life more affordable”, the numbers above paint a different picture.

Income Tax Act

What should the government do?

The Canadian Income Tax Act (ITA) has not seen a major review since the late 1960’s. It is now a patchwork of legislation that is difficult for even seasoned Chartered Professional Accountants to apply into practice.

Complexities within the ITA result in a significant added administrative burdens. Instead of focusing on growing your business, creating jobs or planning for retirement, significant time is lost navigating the ITA.

The government should immediately engage in a full scale review of the ITA. The review must consult the private sector and address all major industries across Canada. The revisions should be made in such a way as to allow for amendments in future as the economy continues to evolve.

Key areas that should be the focus of a review:

  1. Simplify: The tax system needs to be fair, efficient and competitive.

  2. Modernize: Tax policy needs to be able to keep up with the digital economy.

  3. Be Supportive: Changes to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) policies that will ease compliance for taxpayers.

Keep it Simple

Simple:

In Alberta, there are now nine personal tax brackets, a patch work of credits and numerous complexities to navigate in complying with regulations relating to owner-operator business.

Serious consideration should be given to shift away from taxing income and toward taxing consumption instead. It is far more beneficial to tax activities that reduce the wealth of society, ie. consumption, rather than tax the creation of wealth.

The simplest way to make the shift to a consumption based tax system would be to increase the rate of federal GST. This would be offset with reductions in personal tax rates. The personal tax rate drops could be implemented in a manner that preserves the progressive tax regime, but with significantly fewer tax brackets.

For those in the lower tax brackets, the majority of their annual income is spent on non-GST’able expenditures such as groceries, rent and health care. Those with higher disposable incomes would contribute more to government revenues as a result. This preserves the progressive tax regime, protects the vulnerable and doesn’t penalize the creation of wealth.

More comprehensive reforms could also be analyzed to determine the best solution for Canadians.

Update

Modernize:

In recent months, there has been a growing call for government to implement a “wealth tax”. The New Democratic Party has suggested that a 1% on families with a net worth in excess of $20 million would generate net tax revenue of $5.6 billion in 2020-21.

As mentioned above, government should not introduce further tax on the creation of wealth. This tax policy will only further drive investment out of the country at a time that we can ill afford it.

Additionally, there have been calls to add an additional layer of tax on big tech companies, most notably Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. There is no doubt that these companies have seen record profits in 2020 but haphazardly implementing a 3% tax on the revenues of these companies will likely back fire.

The reason why large corporations are able to take advantage of low tax rates in foreign jurisdictions is due to varied rates across the globe. If one jurisdiction makes the decision to implement a tax increase, naturally, corporations will seek out lower tax jurisdictions.

If government is concerned with tech giants skirting federal taxes, they need to consult with all jurisdictions in which these companies operate. A unilateral tax will simply resulting in these corporations moving profits to lower tax jurisdictions.

Support

Be Supportive:

The Canada Revenue Agency is typically thought of with disdain by many Canadian taxpayers. Some of these feelings are self induced, others are not.

Much like the difficulties that individuals and businesses have in navigating the Income Tax Act (ITA), the same can be said for CRA agents. While the senior agents typically have specific training and field experience, the majority of front line CRA agents simply do not have the necessary training to effectively help taxpayers navigate the complexities of the ITA.

In order for the CRA to provide more supportive service to taxpayers, they too need to see a reform in the ITA. It simply is not fair to ask agents to be able to interpret the ITA and how it applies to each taxpayer they speak with.

Secondly, the CRA needs to revise audit training procedures for their agents that considers materiality of each case. Far too often I see audit cases that request significant amounts of supporting documentation in response to a taxpayers nominal expense claim. Some of these being less than $100.

This places a significant administrative burden on taxpayers, specifically small business owners. It also leads to a great deal of frustration, which further damages the relationship between this government agency and the general public.

 

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Canada’s middle class has fallen on difficult times in recent years. This has only been exasperated by the impacts of COVID-19.

For far too long, Canada has lost investment and stymied growth due to its archaic tax regime.

The Liberal government has promised to “build back better” and create an economy that is just and equitable for all. Details of these plans remain to be seen.

Instead of grandiose plans stemming from pie-in-the-sky slogans, the government should immediately look to reform the tax system.

Focusing on simplicity, modernization and reducing administrative burden will give taxpayers the confidence to know that their hard work will translate into consistent after-tax earnings.

It’s time to unleash the power of the Canadian worker, supported by a competitive and modern tax regime. Future generations depend on it.

https://www.jaredpilon.com/

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Opinion

When the going gets tough, the tough get praying….

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Amidst the turbulence of our present medical situation in the world, fear and panic is the easy way out.

We, in Alberta, are blessed with a Premier who has stood up for the common man.  He has never advocated tough measures nor walking lockstep with our Prime Minister and Dr. Tam.  Dr. Hinshaw has maintained a calm response in the face of public pressure.

People of all stripes have an opinion on the origins, prevention and cure for Covid 19.

We can talk about this until the end of 2020, but when the going gets tough, the tough get praying.  Petra, a popular Christian rock group, wrote a song called “Get on your knees and fight like a man.”

It is now time to fight like men and women who believe in God and His power to change the world.  The only way we, as human beings can change the world is to stand up the bullies, to those who would force their will on us when we do not and will never agree.

Our provincial leaders are now in that place.

Earlier tonight, November 22, I received a whats app message that stated the following:

A friend whos sister- in -law is a neighbor of Jason Kenny just texted me tonight – she said he is asking for prayer tonight and tomorrow. He is feeling intense pressure to bow to the feds to shut Alberta down.

They are also urging people to send him a quick email….telling them they’re praying for him and stand with him for no further lockdowns. Share with others

[email protected]

Now is the time to fight on our knees for OUR province and country.

We do not want a lockdown like Manitoba or Toronto.

There is NO blood running in the streets, patients are not waiting outside hospitals with covid/flu symptoms and nor are schools shut down with no teachers or students.  Stores till have staff and our economy is still alive, for now.

This is NO emergency.  But it could be if a lockdown is imposed.

PRAY like your life depends on it, because it does.

If the federal government defies the constitution and forces a lockdown, PRAY still that God will heal and protect as he has promised.

Part of a church? Organize a prayer night or get together with your friends.  This is the time to act.

If you do not believe in God…pray to your god, send good thoughts and an email supporting NO lockdown if you feel that is right.

There are no atheists in foxholes.  I believe that this is a crucial time in Alberta history.

Be part of the victory over Ottawa and help us protect democracy in our province.

 

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november, 2020

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