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Inflation-fighting measures could have gone further, but should still help Central Alberta businesses: Chamber

Utility rebates and temporary halt of gas tax will offer some relief, says CEO Scott Robinson
Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Robinson (Photo contributed)

It won’t bring inflation-stressed businesses everything they need, but Central Alberta companies should see some short-term benefit from Premier Smith’s $2.4B aid package, said the CEO of Red Deer’s Chamber of Commerce.

While most of Premier Danielle Smith’s inflation-fighting relief announcements were aimed at families with young children, people on fixed incomes, and seniors, Chamber CEO Scott Robinson believes businesses will benefit, along with other Albertans, from a halted gas tax and from larger rebates on utility bills.

Robinson had hoped for more government investment in post-secondary training programs that to provide more skilled workers for industries that need them, or more wage subsidies for businesses hard hit by inflationary pressures.

But he believes the temporary tax and utility breaks will help some, particularly certain shipping-related or industrial businesses.

Smith said Alberta small businesses, farms and households, which have been getting a monthly $50 rebate on electricity bills since July will get rebates increased, “totalling $200 per household.”

As well the provincial government will no longer collect its 13-cents -per-litre tax on gas at the pumps to help for at least the next six months.

This latter move was applauded by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. It costs people an extra $15 when filling up a pickup truck in Alberta, “so seeing it suspended is a good thing,” said Kris Sims, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

But the Alberta NDP called Smith’s announcement ill thought-out and inefficient use of tax dollars.

The $600 payout Smith promised for each child (in households that make under $180,000 annually), disabled person or senior from the UCP leaves out roughly two million Albertans — and it does not make up for the losses vulnerable Albertans have faced since the UCP took office, said Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley.

“I have heard from so many in the last 12 hours who don’t have children, who aren’t on income support, who are working two jobs and trying to put food on the table, and there’s nothing here for them,” said Notley.

While the provincial government is now re-indexing for inflation AISH and PDD income supports, Notley said AISH recipients will still be $3,000 short of where they would have been if the UCP had not de-indexed AISH in 2019.

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