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Alberta

Premier Kenney addresses Alberta’s COVID-19 economic crisis

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From the Province of Alberta

Additional financial support for Albertans and employers

More relief is on the way for Albertans and Alberta employers.

The government has made three significant decisions that will give Albertans and Alberta employers additional supports as they deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Our priority is to keep our province strong while we get through these difficult times together. We’re doing everything we can to support Albertans and Alberta employers through this crisis. That’s why we’re focused on creating tangible savings for households and freeing up necessary cash for businesses to help them through these unprecedented times.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

Education property tax freeze

During a pandemic, Alberta households should not need to worry about paying additional property taxes.

  • The government will immediately cancel the decision made in Budget 2020 and will freeze education property taxes at last year’s level.
  • Reversing the 3.4 per cent population and inflation adjustment will save Alberta households and businesses about $87 million in 2020-21, which means $55 million for households and $32 million for employers.
  • The government expects that Albertans and Alberta businesses will fully realize these savings and that municipal property tax levels will not be increased as a result of the lower provincial education property tax levels.

Education property tax deferral for business

When Alberta businesses are operating, they employ Albertans who can support themselves, their families and help keep the economy running. Effective immediately, the government will defer education property tax for businesses for six months.

  • In the next six months, $458 million in cash will remain with employers to help them pay employees and continue operations.
  • The government expects municipalities to set education property tax rates as they normally would, but defer collection. Deferred amounts will be repaid in future tax years.
  • The government encourages commercial landlords to pass on these savings to their tenants through reduced or deferred payments. This will help employers continue to manage their debts, pay their employees and stay in business.
  • Businesses capable of paying their taxes in full are strongly encouraged to do so. This will assist the province in being able to support Albertans through this pandemic.

“Eliminating the scheduled adjustment of education property taxes and deferring collection of non-residential property taxes will result in savings to Albertans and improved business cash flow. This measure will help Alberta households and businesses during this time – we want to keep Albertans working while we get through these difficult times together.”

Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

WCB premiums deferral for private sector businesses and support for small and medium businesses

Private sector employers can save money on their WCB premium payments at a time when they need it most. These actions ensure the sustainability of the workers’ compensation system and that injured workers continue to receive the benefits and supports they need to return to work.

  • Private sector employers will have immediate financial relief by deferring WCB premiums until early 2021, effectively for one year.
  • Employers who have already paid their WCB premium payment for 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit.
  • For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50 per cent of the premium when it is due.
  • Large employers will also receive a break by having their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021, at which time their premiums will be due.
  • Paying 50 per cent of small and medium private sector WCB premiums for 2020 will cost government approximately $350 million.

Additional measures to help families, students and employers

Previously announced measure taken by the province to protect Albertans and assist businesses include:

  • The collection of corporate income tax balances and instalment payments is deferred until Aug. 31, 2020. This gives Alberta businesses access to about $1.5 billion in funds to help them cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
  • $50 million to support emergency isolation for working adult Albertans who must self-isolate, including persons who are the sole caregiver for a dependent who must self-isolate, and who will not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated. It is distributed in one payment instalment to bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments begin in April.
  • Utility payment deferral for residential, farm, and small commercial customers to defer bill payments for the next 90 days and ensure no one is cut off from electricity and natural gas services during this time of crisis.
  • A six-month, interest-free moratorium on Alberta student loan payments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans.

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Alberta

Alberta Mounties charged in shooting death of man in car to get jury trial

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WHITECOURT, Alta. — Two RCMP officers charged in the shooting death of a 31-year-old man in northern Alberta will be getting a jury trial.

Cpt. Randy Stenger and Const. Jessica Brown of the Whitecourt RCMP detachment were arrested in June and initially changed with criminal negligence causing death.

Earlier this month, the charges were changed to manslaughter.

The pair appeared Tuesday in Whitecourt provincial court and, court documents say, there was an election for a jury trial.

No trial date was set, and the next court date is Oct. 13.

Alberta’s police watchdog has said the officers found Clayton Crawford sleeping in a vehicle in July 2018 and he was shot multiple times during a confrontation.

Susan Hughson, executive director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), has said prosecutors were consulted for their opinion and her team determined charges were warranted.

Hughson said it was the first time in the Alberta agency’s history that a police-involved shooting resulting in a death led to criminal charges against officers.

ASIRT has said that the responsibility for the prosecution was transferred to the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General at the request of the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service.

The manslaughter charges were laid on Sept. 3, after consultation with the Ontario Crown, ASIRT said.

Both officers were suspended with pay after charges were laid. Stenger, 43, has 12 years of service with the RCMP and 29-year old Brown has four.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2010.

— By Daniela Germano in Edmonton

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Tampa Bay Lightning succeeding in NHL playoffs by adding grit, sinew, sandpaper

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EDMONTON — The Tampa Bay Lightning have turned their Stanley Cup final with the Dallas Stars into a best of five because, to quote Tampa head coach Jon Cooper and paraphrase “The Untouchables,” you can’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

Cooper says his team’s renewed commitment to grit and defence has been the biggest change from the high-scoring squad that won 62 games and the NHL’s President’s Trophy in 2019 only to get humiliated in a four-game sweep in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“We used to be a team that (believed) it wasn’t good enough to beat you 3-0, we had to beat you 9-0. And we had to change that attitude,” Cooper told reporters on a Zoom call Tuesday.

“If you play that way, especially when you get to this time of year (in the playoffs), bad things are usually going to happen.”

“I think experience and being humbled can help right a ship,” he added. “And I truly believe (that after) last year’s experience, we’re seeing, I don’t know how to say it, the fruits of that awful setback.”

Since then, Tampa general manager Julien BriseBois has airlifted in a planeload of chapped leather and sinew.

In the summer of 2019, he signed battle-tested veterans Pat Maroon and Kevin Shattenkirk to complement existing scrappers like Ryan McDonagh, Erik Cernak and Cedric Paquette.

At this year’s trade deadline, BriseBois signed defenceman Zach Bogosian and surrendered a top prospect and top draft picks for forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow.

Coleman and Goodrow, alongside Yanni Gourde, have solidified the checking and neturalizing on the third line, giving more space for slick-for point-getters like Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov.

Cooper said there has also been an attitude adjustment on the rest of the roster, to commit to collectively keeping the puck out of the net.

The proof of that resilience came in Game 2 Monday night. The Stars smacked and belted Kucherov all over the ice in the opening minutes only to see the slick Russian bounce back and set up two power-play goals on elite-level, seeing-eye set-up passes.

After the Stars closed the gap to 3-2 early in the third period, the Lightning shut them down, taking the play to them on the forecheck and locking down the win to tie the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.

They outhit the Stars for the second consecutive game (107-100 combined after two games).

McDonagh knocked Stars forward Blake Comeau out of the game with a clean open-ice high-speed hit late in the second period, with Comeau leaving clutching his side and now questionable for Game 3 Wednesday.

Paquette got put in a head lock by Stars uber-agitator Corey Perry. When Perry released him at the direction of the refs, Paquette turned on Perry, raining blows down on him.

Cooper, in a post-game interview, said, “You’ve got to stick up for yourselves and not give the other team an inch.

“You can’t go into these (games) with (the plan to) bring a knife and they bring a gun. You’ve got to load up, too.”

Dallas head coach Rick Bowness said the fact the players have been isolated in a hotel for two months between games, away from family and friends, to avoid contracting COVID-19, is causing the bad blood to boil just a little bit higher.

“When there’s absolutely no change in your routine from day to day, (except) for a couple of days here or there, in eight weeks, you get a little edgy,” said Bowness. 

“The things you normally do to relax between games, whether it’s going out for dinner with your wife, go for a drive, or going to a driving range and hit golf balls … is not there.”

The Stars gave up three consecutive power plays in the last period of Game 1, but survived, then gave up three in a row in the first period of Game 2 and got burned. Bowness said that must change.

“When you keep taking undisciplined penalties it’s going to bite you in the butt, and it did last night,” he said.

Stars forward Andrew Cogliano said at this late stage it comes down to will and resolve, echoing the answer to the decisive question posed to “Untouchables” chief crimebuster Eliot Ness: What are you prepared to do?

“As you get deeper in the playoffs, the teams are so good that what separates you sometimes is whoever wants it more,” said Cogliano.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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