Albertans shouldn’t have to wait any longer than May 31 for their utility rebates, says the NDP, who presented amendments to the Utility Commodity Rebate Act on Monday to make that happen.
“Utility bills are creating real hardship for Alberta families and Alberta businesses right now, and they are stacking on top of a number of rising monthly costs,” said NDP leader Rachel Notley at a press conference.
“I think it’s absolutely possible to get rebates out the door that quickly.”
The NDP said it’s been seven weeks since the UCP promised Albertans a flat $150 rebate on electricity bills to offset high costs in the first three months of this year, and 12 weeks since they promised a natural gas rebate. Last week, Associate Minister Dale Nally said it could be two more months before the electricity rebate goes out, and he had no clear answer on when the natural gas relief would come.
“It says so much about the UCP that while they’re enjoying billions of dollars in resource revenue, they can’t figure out how to give an Alberta family a $50 rebate and they refuse to protect them from losing their heat and power while they try to figure it out,” Notley said.
“That’s just not good enough. We have a plan that will get Albertans real help, real quick.”
The NDP’s amendments to Bill 18 would also require the government to get rebates to Albertans within 30 days of being authorized in any future use of the act, and bans utility shut-offs this year and whenever a rebate program is activated by the act.
Notley said natural gas rebates are a little more complicated than electricity, but there should still be no reason the UCP can’t get it done by May 31.
The NDP also calls for any use of the rebate act to trigger an audit and review of price spikes, following a University of Calgary study last week that concluded that markups are the main driver of rising utility bills.
“If the premier had spent a fraction of the time on this file as he spends on trying to save his job this would have been done months ago. So when you open that next heart-stopping utility bill, that’s the price of UCP infighting and incompetence,” Notley said.
She said risings costs will impede economic growth and the UCP need to provide additional support to some businesses. A $50 rebate is not enough.