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Alberta

New tax bracket among features of Alberta’s 2024 Budget

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Budget 2024: A responsible plan for a growing province

Budget 2024 is a responsible plan to strengthen health care and education, build safe communities and manage resources wisely to support a growing Alberta.

With a steady focus on fiscal responsibility and wise spending, Alberta’s government will continue to meet the needs of Albertans today and tomorrow. Budget 2024 presents three more years of balanced budgets, beginning with a forecast surplus of $367 million in 2024-25. Budget 2024 strengthens the vital services Albertans rely on and ensures those services remain sustainable over the long run.

“Alberta is growing. Budget 2024 is a plan that manages the pressures faced by a growing province today while securing the future for generations who follow. I’m proud of the choices we made in this budget that support Albertans’ top priorities and prepare our province to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Budget 2024 invests today and saves for tomorrow so we can continue to be the nation’s economic engine.”

Nate Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

Budget 2024 is a responsible plan that puts Albertans and Alberta families first by investing in their health, education, safety, and economic growth and success. Priority investments include:

  • Health and mental health supports: $26.2 billion in operating dollars, a 4.4 per cent increase over the forecast for 2023-24.
  • Education supports: $9.3 billion in operating expenses, a 4.4 per cent increase from last year, to support record enrolment growth, hire hundreds more education staff including teachers and educational assistants, and support students with specialized needs.
  • Social supports: $2.9 billion in 2024-25 to Albertans through the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program, the Alberta Seniors Benefit and other social support programs, plus $355 million for Alberta Child and Family Benefit payments to help low-income families, indexing payments to inflation and providing for more eligible clients.
  • Workforce supports: An increase of $102 million over three years to add 3,200 apprenticeship classroom seats in high-demand areas and support curriculum updates to the apprenticeship program, as well as $62.4 million over three years to expand physician education, including through rural health training centres.
  • Public safety supports: $1.2 billion in 2024-25 operating expense for Public Safety and Emergency Services to support police and mental health crisis teams, deploy street-level police officers to tackle crime in Calgary and Edmonton, and provide $74 million to the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.
  • Wildfire supports: $151 million operating expense over the next three years for enhancements to the Wildfire Management Program and $55 million in capital investment for new firefighting equipment and facilities.
    • The fiscal framework provides the flexibility the government needs to respond quickly to disasters and emergencies as they arise, including a $2-billion contingency.
  • Water management and drought preparedness supports: $1.3 billion in capital funding over the next three years, including $251 million to better prepare the province for floods and droughts; $272 million for irrigation projects; and $539 million to support municipal water supply and wastewater infrastructure.
    • Budget 2024 also provides additional operating support of $19 million over three years for the Strategy to Increase Water Availability and $9 million for water management initiatives.
  • Capital supports: In total, $25 billion over three years in capital funding to build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure, supporting 24,000 direct jobs and 13,000 indirect jobs across the province.

Alberta is well-positioned to remain the economic engine of Canada, with real gross domestic product forecast to grow 2.9 per cent in 2024, but the province continues to face challenges. While Alberta’s growing population is supporting economic activity and helping to ease labour shortages, it is also increasing demand for housing, health care, education and other public services. Ongoing geopolitical turmoil, uncertainty from federal government policies and high consumer prices risk dampening growth. Budget 2024 prepares Alberta to face those headwinds, with its responsible plan that invests in Albertans today and builds prosperity for tomorrow.

The fiscal framework introduced in spring 2023 requires the government to use at least half of any available surplus cash to pay down debt, freeing up more money to support Albertans. Taxpayer-supported debt will be reduced by a forecast $3.2 billion in the 2023-24 fiscal year. With the government’s commitment to paying down debt, the total taxpayer-supported debt will be $78.4 billion at the end of 2024-25.

High interest rates and the need to refinance maturing debt are driving up debt-servicing costs (the interest payments and fees on the debt) paid by taxpayers. As a result, debt-servicing costs are growing by $229 million in 2024-25 to $3.4 billion. While high interest rates on refinanced maturing debt are driving up those costs in the short term, the government’s strategic debt repayment plan will save Albertans millions in the long term.

The province is retaining more than $1 billion in investment earnings from 2023-24 in the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund. Alberta’s government will also deposit another $2 billion from the Alberta Fund, increasing the value of the Heritage Savings Trust Fund to a forecast $25 billion. This is a significant investment in the future of Albertans and the province’s main long-term savings fund

Revenue

  • In 2024-25, total revenue is estimated to be $73.5 billion, which is $2.1 billion lower than the  third-quarter forecast for 2023-24.
  • Revenue from personal income taxes is estimated to increase to $15.6 billion in 2024-25, up $365 million from the third-quarter forecast, and grow in the following two years as more people continue to move to Alberta.
  • Corporate income tax revenue is estimated at $7 billion in 2024-25, down $176 million from the third-quarter forecast for 2023-24, but rising over the next two years.
  • Non-renewable resource revenue is estimated to drop to $17.3 billion in 2024-25, from $19.4 billion forecast for 2023-24, and is forecast to pick up over the medium term.

 

Expense

  • Total expense in 2024-25 is $73.2 billion, a 3.9 per cent increase from the forecast for 2023-24.
  • Total expense is expected to be $74.6 billion in 2025-26 and $76.2 billion in 2026-27.
  • Total operating expense in 2024-25 is $60.1 billion, a 3.9 per cent increase from the 2023-24 forecast.
  • A contingency of $2 billion will help the province respond to disasters and emergencies and other in-year expense pressures, a $500-million increase from 2023-24.

 

Surplus

  • A surplus of $367 million is forecast for 2024-25.
  • Surpluses of $1.4 billion and $2.6 billion are forecast for 2024-25 and 2025-26, respectively.

 

Economic outlook

  • In 2024, real gross domestic product is expected to grow by 2.9 per cent, up from the 2.6 per cent forecast at mid-year.
  • Strong population growth is expected to continue at 3.7 per cent in the 2024 calendar year, down from 4.1 per cent growth in 2023.

 

Energy and economic assumptions, 2024-25

  • West Texas Intermediate oil (USD/bbl)                            $74
  • Western Canadian Select @ Hardisty (CND/bbl)            $76.80
  • Light-heavy differential (USD/bbl)                                    $16
  • ARP natural gas (CND/GJ)                                              $2.90
  • Conventional crude production (000s barrels/day)          507
  • Raw bitumen production (000s barrels/day)                    3,429
  • Canadian dollar exchange rate (USD¢/CDN$)                75.90
  • Interest rate (10-year Canada bonds, per cent)               3.70

 

Related information

 

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Alberta

Alberta moves to protect Edmonton park from Trudeau government’s ‘diversity’ plan

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

If Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative is implemented, Alberta could see its parks, including Edmonton’s River Valley, hijacked by the federal government in the name of ‘sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.’

Edmonton is working to protect its River Valley from the Trudeau government’s “diversity” park plan. 

On April 15, Alberta Legislature passed MLA Brandon Lunty’s private members’ Bill 204 to protect the Edmonton River Valley from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative which would give the federal government power over provincial parks to enforce a variety of quotas related to the “climate” and “diversity.”  

“Albertans elected our United Conservative government with a majority mandate to, among other things, protect families and communities from federal overreach and intrusion. That’s exactly what this bill accomplishes,” Lunty said in a press release  

Bill 204, titled the Municipal Government (National Urban Parks) Amendment Act, is a response to the National Urban Park Initiative which would give the Trudeau government jurisdiction over Alberta’s provincial parks.  

The Trudeau government’s plan promises to “provide long-lasting benefits to the urban area” by using “sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.” 

If the program is approved, the Edmonton River Valley could be “fully owned by the Federal Government,” which will use the space to advance their values, including addressing the impacts of “climate change” and creating spaces where “diversity is welcomed.”  

The plan also promises that equity will be “intentionally advanced” while “respecting indigenous rights” through “reconciliation.”   

However, many Edmonton citizens were concerned with the Urban Park Initiative and met with their MLAs to discuss the issue.  

Edmonton citizen Sheila Phimester worked with MLA Jackie Lovely to create a petition to prevent the River Valley from becoming federally owned. The petition has received over 5,000 signatures.  

“Oh, and because it’s the federal government, their ‘priorities’ for these parks are ‘healthier communities’, ‘climate resilience’, ‘reconciliation’, ‘equity’, ‘diversity’, and ‘inclusion,’” it continued.   

Already, Trudeau has attempted to assert power over Alberta’s industry by placing “climate” restrictions on their oil and gas production in an attempt to force net-zero regulations on all Canadian provinces, including on electricity generation, by as early as 2035.   

However, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has repeatedly vowed to protect the province from Trudeau’s radical “net zero” push. 

In December, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith blasted Trudeau’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s plan to slash oil and gas emissions by 35 percent to 38 percent below 2019 levels as “unrealistic” and “unconstitutional.”  

Trudeau’s current environmental goals are in lockstep with the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and include phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.  

The reduction and eventual elimination of the use of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the globalist group behind the socialist “Great Reset” agenda – an organization in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved. 

In November, after announcing she had “enough” of Trudeau’s extreme environmental rules, Smith said her province had no choice but to assert control over its electricity grid to combat federal overreach by enacting its Sovereignty Act. The Sovereignty Act serves to shield Albertans from future power blackouts due to federal government overreach.  

Unlike most provinces in Canada, Alberta’s electricity industry is nearly fully deregulated. However, the government still has the ability to take control of it at a moment’s notice. 

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Alberta

Coutts Three verdict: A warning to protestors who act as liaison with police

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Ray McGinnis

During the trial numbers of RCMP officers conceded that the Coutts Three were helpful in their interactions with the law. As well, there didn’t seem to be any truth to the suggestion that Van Huigenbos, Van Herk and Janzen were leaders of the protest.

Twelve jurors have found the Coutts Three guilty of mischief over $5,000 at a courthouse in Lethbridge, Alberta. Marco Van Huigenbois, Alex Van Herk and George Janzen will appear again in court on July 22 for sentencing.

Van Huigenbois, Van Herk and Janzen were each protesting at the Coutts Blockade in 2022. A blockade of Alberta Highway 4 began on January 29, 2022, blocking traffic, on and off, on Alberta Highway 4 near the Coutts-Sweetgrass Canada-USA border crossing. The protests were in support of the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa.

Protests began due to the vaccine mandates for truckers entering Canada, and lockdowns that bankrupted 120,000 small businesses. Government edicts were purportedly for “public health” to stop the spread of the C-19 virus. Yet the CDC’s Dr. Rachel Wallensky admitted on CNN in August 2021 the vaccine did not prevent infection or stop transmission.

By February 2022, a US court forced Pfizer to release its “Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports” revealing the company knew by the end of February, 2021, that 1,223 people  had a “case outcome” of “fatal” as a result of taking the companies’ vaccine.

On the day of February 14, 2022, the three men spoke to Coutts protesters after a cache of weapons had been displayed by the RCMP. These were in connection with the arrest of the Coutts Four. Van Huigenbos and others persuaded the protesters to leave Coutts, which they did by February 15, 2022.

During the trial numbers of RCMP officers conceded that the Coutts Three were helpful in their interactions with the law. As well, there didn’t seem to be any truth to the suggestion that Van Huigenbos, Van Herk and Janzen were leaders of the protest.

RCMP officer Greg Tulloch testified that there were a number of “factions” within the larger protest group. These factions had strong disagreements about how to proceed with the protest. The Crown contended the Coutts Three were the leaders of the protest.

During his testimony, Tulloch recalled how Van Huigenbos and Janzen assisted him in getting past the “vehicle blockade to enter Coutts at a time during the protest when access to Coutts from the north via the AB-4 highway was blocked.” Tulloch also testified that Janzen and Van Huigenbos helped with handling RCMP negotiations with the protesters. Tulloch gave credit to these two “being able to help move vehicles at times to open lanes on the AB-4 highway to facilitate the flow of traffic in both directions.”

During cross examination by George Janzen’s lawyer, Alan Honner, Tulloch stated that he noticed two of the defendants assisting RCMP with reopening the highway in both directions. Honner said in summary, “[Marco Van Huigenbos and George Janzen] didn’t close the road, they opened it.”

Mark Wielgosz, an RCMP officer for over twenty years, worked as a liaison between law enforcement and protesters at the Coutts blockade. Taking the stand, he concurred that there was sharp disagreement among the Coutts protesters and the path forward with their demonstration. Rebel News video clips “submitted by both the Crown and defence teams captured these disagreements as demonstrators congregated in the Smuggler’s Saloon, a location where many of the protesters met to discuss and debate their demonstration.” Wielgosz made several attempts to name the leaders of the protest in his role as a RCMP liaison with the protesters, but was unsuccessful.”

However, the Crown maintained that the protest unlawfully obstructed people’s access to property on Highway 4.

Canada’s Criminal Code defines mischief as follows in Section 430:

Every one commits mischief who willfully

(a)  destroys or damages property;

(b)  renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective;

(c)   obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property; or

(d)  obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.

Robert Kraychik reported that “RCMP Superintendent Gordon Corbett…cried (no comment on the sincerity of this emoting) while testifying about a female RCMP officer that was startled by the movement of a tractor with a large blade during the Coutts blockade/protest.” This was the climax of the trial. A tractor moving some distance away from an officer in rural Alberta, with blades. The shock of it all.

No evidence was presented in the trial that Van Huigenbos, Van Herk and Janzen destroyed or damaged property. Officers testified they couldn’t identify who the protest leaders were. They testified the defendants assisted with opening traffic lanes, and winding down the protest.

By volunteering to liaise with the RCMP, the Crown depicted the Coutts Three as the protest leaders. Who will choose to volunteer at any future peaceful, non-violent, protest to act as a liaison with the policing authorities? Knowing of the verdict handed down on April 16, 2024, in Lethbridge?

Ray McGinnis is a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. His forthcoming book is Unjustified: The Emergencies Act and the Inquiry that Got It Wrong.

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