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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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Bubble hockey champs: Tampa Bay Lightning beat Dallas Stars 2-0, win Stanley Cup

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EDMONTON — The Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup champions, defeating the Dallas Stars 2-0 Monday to capture the NHL’s top trophy in front of empty seats, sprawling tarps, and no fans at Rogers Place.

Brayden Point and Blake Coleman scored the goals and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 shots for his first career playoff shutout.

The Lightning players exploded off the bench as the seconds ticked to zero, swarming Vasilevskiy, their whoops and hollers echoing around the arena.

The Lightning are the champions of the so-called bubbled NHL playoffs, with players kept in isolation for the past two months. Games were played without fans in attendance in hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Lightning won the best-of-seven series 4-2 for the second championship in the 28-year-history of the franchise. The first cup came in 2004.

Tampa defenceman Victor Hedman was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Hedman scored 10 goals and added 12 assists during the Lightning’s run.

Vasilevskiy played all 25 post-season games for Tampa, including nine overtime affairs. One of those, against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, was a five-overtime marathon. His record was 18-7.

Tampa Bay outshot Dallas 29-22, and outshot them in every game of the series.

Point scored on the power play midway through the first period, sailing through the slot untouched and putting his own rebound past Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin.

Coleman made it 2-0 by capitalizing on a turnover midway through the second frame, one-timing a cross-ice pass from Cedric Paquette.

Nikita Kucherov assisted on Point’s goal and was the NHL’s top scorer in the playoffs with seven goals and 34 points. Point was second at 14 goals and 33 points.

Khudobin finishes the playoffs with a 14-10 record.

The Lightning finished fourth in the regular season (43-21-6) when play was suspended around the 70-game mark on March 12 due to the COVID pandemic.

Tampa was a model of consistency in the return-to-play tournament that began in early August.

The Lightning went 18-7, never lost two games in a row, and shut down the top three defensive teams in the league (Boston, Dallas, and Columbus).

The Bolts were overtime warriors, going 7-2 in extra-session games. They played 221:14 total in overtime, more than any team in playoff history.

It’s the first Stanley Cup for every Lightning player except Pat Maroon. The burly, bearded veteran winger won it all last season with the St. Louis Blues.

It’s also the first Cup for head coach Jon Cooper, in his seventh full season behind the bench for Tampa.

He defeated Dallas interim head coach Rick Bowness. Bowness had been hired by Cooper as a mentor in 2013 and served the next five years with the Lightning as his assistant.

The Bolts had been knocking on the Cup door in recent years, making the final four in four of the last six seasons. In 2015 they lost to Chicago 4-2 in the final.

Nine members of the current Tampa roster were on that 2015 team: Kucherov, captain Steven Stamkos, Hedman, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Vasilevskiy, Braydon Coburn, Paquette, and Tyler Johnson.

The Stars franchise is now 1-4 in the Stanley Cup final, dating back to its Minnesota North Star roots. The lone championship came in 1999.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press







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Alberta

Calgary man pleads guilty in crash that killed woman out on a work break

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CALGARY — A Calgary man who wasn’t supposed to drive because of a brain tumour has pleaded guilty in a crash that killed a mother of three who was out for a walk while on a break from work.

Anjna Sharma was killed in May 2017 when James Beagrie’s truck collided with a car near a mall in the city’s northeast after he lost consciousness.

Court heard the truck then mounted the curb and hit Sharma, who was dragged a short distance.

Beagrie, who is 47, was charged with criminal negligence causing death.

But he pleaded guilty at the start of his trial to the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death.

An agreed statement of facts said Beagrie was told by his family doctor three weeks before the crash that he shouldn’t be driving because he had a brain tumour and needed to see a neurologist.

“At least there is admission on his part to some extent,” Suneet Sharma, who was married to Anjna for 24 years, said outside Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday.

“When (your) life partner leaves, it’s not that easy. Also my kids are having difficulties adjusting to the life that they are put into.”

The youngest of the couple’s three children, Archisha Sharma, 15, said the siblings miss their mother terribly.

“I cry every day just looking at her photo as she’s smiling, and I just think why can’t I see that,” said the 15-year-old. “I miss her warmth. I need my mom.”

The Crown agreed that the lesser charge “more accurately reflected what occurred in this matter,” defence lawyer Allan Fay said outside court.

The agreed statement of facts said Beagrie had been informed in January 2013 that he had a benign brain tumour and had to see a neurosurgeon annually.

On Feb. 17, 2017, he was involved in a single-vehicle crash in Drumheller, Alta., after blacking out behind the wheel. Beagrie underwent a CT scan, which showed the tumour had grown.

That May, Beagrie received a letter from Alberta Transportation advising him that his licence would be suspended in June.

“He should have known that he’s putting other people’s lives at risk. It’s painful, frustrating …the way that people take it for granted other people’s lives,” said Suneet Sharma.

Beagrie is currently out on bail. A date for a sentencing hearing has yet to be set. (CTV Calgary)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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