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Alberta

Complete overhaul of rural policing in Alberta! Province adding 500 RCMP officers and support staff

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6 minute read

Doug Schweitzer

Justice Minister and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer shakes hands with an RCMP officer in Leduc County.

Historic investment in rural policing

Alberta is adding more than 500 RCMP positions in rural communities across the province and fostering new public safety partnership with municipalities.

The Government of Alberta’s new police funding model will inject more than $286 million over five years into frontline law enforcement for these additional RCMP officer and civilian positions. This new cost-sharing partnership will see small and rural communities begin to pay a portion of frontline policing costs, bringing them into line with larger communities and cities.

Under the cost-sharing terms in the Provincial Police Service Agreement (PPSA), Alberta pays 70 per cent of policing costs and the federal government covers the remaining 30 per cent. With the additional investment from municipalities, the federal share of the PPSA will increase as well. This partnership will constitute a total increase in rural police funding of more than $286 million over five years with every dollar of the additional funds invested in frontline policing.

The province is creating a new Alberta Police Advisory Board, where municipal leadership will have a seat at the table, working in collaboration with law enforcement to ensure local needs are heard and implemented. This new governance mechanism will ensure that policing is in line with the priorities of those they are protecting.

“Ensuring Albertans are safe, secure, and protected in their communities goes to the heart of who we are as a government. We want to ensure we fund law enforcement in an equitable and sustainable way that will ensure we have more police in our communities. With this new police funding model, we are making the single largest investment in rural policing since the March West and delivering on our promise to enhance public safety.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

“Crime affects many in my own rural community, and it is an issue that is incredibly personal to me. All Albertans deserve to feel safe in their own homes and confident that they will not fall victim to violent or property crime. This new police funding model will provide increased security and certainty for rural Albertans, and value for taxpayer dollars.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks

“The Government of Alberta has made an unprecedented investment in their police service, and we are ready to deliver on that commitment. The funding model announced will allow the Alberta RCMP to put additional resources where they are needed most immediately – on the frontline in your detachments, protecting your backyards and your farmyards, pushing back crime in a sophisticated and focused manner.”

Curtis Zablocki, Deputy Commissioner, RCMP

“Rural Municipalities of Alberta appreciates the Government of Alberta’s willingness to consult on this issue, and as a result of input from RMA and rural municipalities, implement a phased-in police-costing model. Rural crime has been an ongoing issue in Alberta in recent years, and rural municipalities recognize they need to share in the costs of the solutions to support safer communities.”

Al Kemmere, president, Rural Municipalities of Alberta

“AUMA has long advocated for a more equitable police-funding model to address RCMP vacancies and the rising costs of policing while improving community safety. We’re pleased to see action on this critical priority by the provincial government, as safe and healthy municipalities build strong communities and a stronger Alberta. Further consultation is critical to supporting local governments with the policing resources they need, and we look forward to actively contributing to the Alberta Police Advisory Board.”

Barry Morishita, president, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association

This partnership places priority on adding uniformed patrol officers in rural RCMP detachments, increasing the total number from under 1,600 to about 1,900, and will also add members to specialized RCMP units that dismantle organized crime and drug trafficking and investigate auto and scrap metal theft.

Furthermore, the new civilian positions will assist with administrative tasks and investigative support to increase response times and help ensure officers have the support network they need to protect Albertans by spending more time on roads and in communities.

Quick facts

  • Small and rural communities, with some exceptions, will begin contributing a portion of their frontline policing costs in 2020. To give communities time to adjust, the new funding model is being phased in: communities will contribute 10 per cent of policing costs in 2020, followed by 15 per cent in 2021, 20 per cent in 2022 and 30 per cent in 2023.
  • Policing costs for each community will be determined by municipal tax base (as measured by equalized assessment) and population to calculate a base cost. Communities will also be eligible for other subsidies that consider other factors that may affect local policing costs.
  • Current annual PPSA amount, 2019-20 (prior to new police funding partnership): $374.8 million
  • Government of Alberta contribution: $262.4 million
  • Government of Canada contribution: $112.4 million
  • Additional investments to current PPSA to April 1, 2024 will be: $286,605,021
    • Government of Alberta contribution: $200,623,515
    • Government of Canada contribution: $85,981,506
  • All additional investments will go towards more frontline resources.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Alberta government should create flat 8% personal and business income tax rate in Alberta

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From the Fraser Institute

By Tegan Hill

If the Smith government reversed the 2015 personal income tax rate increases and instituted a flat 8 per cent tax rate, it would help restore Alberta’s position as one of the lowest tax jurisdictions in North America

Over the past decade, Alberta has gone from one of the most competitive tax jurisdictions in North America to one of the least competitive. And while the Smith government has promised to create a new 8 per cent tax bracket on personal income below $60,000, it simply isn’t enough to restore Alberta’s tax competitiveness. Instead, the government should institute a flat 8 per cent personal and business income tax rate.

Back in 2014, Alberta had a single 10 per cent personal and business income tax rate. As a result, it had the lowest top combined (federal and provincial/state) personal income tax rate and business income tax rate in North America. This was a powerful advantage that made Alberta an attractive place to start a business, work and invest.

In 2015, however, the provincial NDP government replaced the single personal income tax rate of 10 percent with a five-bracket system including a top rate of 15 per cent, so today Alberta has the 10th-highest personal income tax rate in North America. The government also increased Alberta’s 10 per cent business income tax rate to 12 per cent (although in 2019 the Kenney government began reducing the rate to today’s 8 per cent).

If the Smith government reversed the 2015 personal income tax rate increases and instituted a flat 8 per cent tax rate, it would help restore Alberta’s position as one of the lowest tax jurisdictions in North America, all while saving Alberta taxpayers $1,573 (on average) annually.

And a truly integrated flat tax system would not only apply a uniform tax 8 per cent rate to all sources of income (including personal and business), it would eliminate tax credits, deductions and exemptions, which reduce the cost of investments in certain areas, increasing the relative cost of investment in others. As a result, resources may go to areas where they are not most productive, leading to a less efficient allocation of resources than if these tax incentives did not exist.

Put differently, tax incentives can artificially change the relative attractiveness of goods and services leading to sub-optimal allocation. A flat tax system would not only improve tax efficiency by reducing these tax-based economic distortions, it would also reduce administration costs (expenses incurred by governments due to tax collection and enforcement regulations) and compliance costs (expenses incurred by individuals and businesses to comply with tax regulations).

Finally, a flat tax system would also help avoid negative incentives that come with a progressive marginal tax system. Currently, Albertans are taxed at higher rates as their income increases, which can discourage additional work, savings and investment. A flat tax system would maintain “progressivity” as the proportion of taxes paid would still increase with income, but minimize the disincentive to work more and earn more (increasing savings and investment) because Albertans would face the same tax rate regardless of how their income increases. In sum, flat tax systems encourage stronger economic growth, higher tax revenues and a more robust economy.

To stimulate strong economic growth and leave more money in the pockets of Albertans, the Smith government should go beyond its current commitment to create a new tax bracket on income under $60,000 and institute a flat 8 per cent personal and business income tax rate.

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Alberta

Province to stop municipalities overcharging on utility bills

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Making utility bills more affordable

Alberta’s government is taking action to protect Alberta’s ratepayers by introducing legislation to lower and stabilize local access fees.

Affordability is a top priority for Alberta’s government, with the cost of utilities being a large focus. By introducing legislation to help reduce the cost of utility bills, the government is continuing to follow through on its commitment to make life more affordable for Albertans. This is in addition to the new short-term measures to prevent spikes in electricity prices and will help ensure long-term affordability for Albertans’ basic household expenses.

“Albertans need relief from high electricity costs and we can provide that relief by bringing in fairness on local access fees. We will not allow municipalities – including the city of Calgary – to profit off of unpredictable spikes in electricity costs while families struggle to make ends meet. We will protect Alberta families from the extreme swings of electricity costs by standardizing the calculations of local access fees across the province.”

Danielle Smith, Premier

Local access fees are functioning as a regressive municipal tax that consumers pay on their utility bills. It is unacceptable for municipalities to be raking in hundreds of millions in surplus revenue off the backs of Alberta’s ratepayers and cause their utility bills to be unpredictable costs by tying their fees to a variable rate. Calgarians paid $240 in local access fees on average in 2023, compared to the $75 on average in Edmonton, thanks to Calgary’s formula relying on a variable rate. This led to $186 million more in fees being collected by the City of Calgary than expected.

“Albertans deserve to have fair and predictable utility bills. Our government is listening to Albertans and taking action to address unaffordable fees on power bills. By introducing this legislation, we are taking yet another step towards ensuring our electricity grid is affordable, reliable, and sustainable for generations to come.”

Nathan Neudorf, Minister of Affordability and Utilities

To protect Alberta’s ratepayers, the Government of Alberta is introducing the Utilities Affordability Statutes Amendment Act, 2024. If passed, this legislation would promote long-term affordability and predictability for utility bills by prohibiting the use of variable rates when calculating municipalities’ local access fees.

Variable rates are highly volatile, which results in wildly fluctuating electricity bills. When municipalities use this rate to calculate their local access fees, it results in higher bills for Albertans and less certainty in families’ budgets. These proposed changes would standardize how municipal fees are calculated across the province, and align with most municipalities’ current formulas.

“Over the last couple of years many consumers have been frustrated with volatile Regulated Rate Option (RRO) prices which dramatically impacted their utility bills. In some cases, these impacts were further amplified by local access fees that relied upon calculations that included those same volatile RRO prices. These proposed changes provide more clarity and stability for consumers, protecting them from volatility in electricity markets.”

Chris Hunt, Utilities Consumer Advocate

If passed, the Utilities Affordability Statutes Amendment Act, 2024 would prevent municipalities from attempting to take advantage of Alberta’s ratepayers in the future. It would amend sections of the Electric Utilities Act and Gas Utilities Act to ensure that the Alberta Utilities Commission has stronger regulatory oversight on how these municipal fees are calculated and applied, ensuring Alberta ratepayer’s best interests are protected.

“Addressing high, unpredictable fees on utility bills is an important step in making life more affordable for Albertans. This legislation will protect Alberta’s ratepayers from spikes in electricity prices and ensures fairness in local access fees.”

Chantelle de Jonge, Parliamentary Secretary for Affordability and Utilities

If passed, this legislation would also amend sections of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act, the Electric Utilities ActGovernment Organizations Act and the Regulated Rate Option Stability Act to replace the terms “Regulated Rate Option”, “RRO”, and “Regulated Rate Provider” with “Rate of Last Resort” and “Rate of Last Resort Provider” as applicable.

Quick facts

  • Local access fees are essentially taxes that are charged to electricity distributors by municipalities. These fees are then passed on to all of the distributor’s customers in the municipality, and appear as a line item on their utility bills.
    • The Municipal Government Act grants municipalities the authority to charge, amend, or cap franchise and local access fees.
  • Linear taxes and franchise fees are usually combined together on consumers’ power bills in one line item as the local access fee.
    • The linear tax is charged to the utility for the right to use the municipality’s property for the construction, operation, and extension of the utility.
    • The franchise fee is the charge paid by the utility to the municipality for the exclusive right to provide service in the municipality.
  • Local access fees are usually calculated in one of two ways:
    • (1) A percentage of transmission and distribution (delivery) costs, typically 10-15 per cent.
    • (2) A fixed, cents per kilowatt-hour of consumed power charge (City of Edmonton).
  • Calgary is the only municipality that employs a two-part fee calculation formula:
    • 11.11 per cent of transmission and distribution charges plus 11.11 per cent of the Regulated Rate Option multiplied by the consumed megawatt hours.

Related information

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