Critics worry too many Albertans are not eligible for the $600 inflation relief

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“When you compare it to competitive provinces, that’s a significant relief that we’re providing.”

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As details of Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s $2.4-billion inflation relief package trickle out, the province’s affordability minister says it was designed to target those who need it most, despite critics saying it leaves all too many unable.

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Smith announced his administration’s plan to combat the effects of inflation on Tuesday, including $600 in payments over six months for every senior and child under 18 in households with annual incomes below $180,000. The same cash payments will be given to those receiving Alberta Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) payments.

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On Wednesday, Affordability and Utilities Minister Matt Jones attended a government announcement with details 20 million dollars for food banks over two years as part of the promised inflation relief bill.

In response to questions from reporters about why many Albertans, including those who are single earning the minimum wage, will not be eligible for the six $100 payments, Jones said the need is higher for families with children, seniors and vulnerable Albertans .

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He also said the “vast majority” of Albertans will be eligible for some form of help through government subsidies, including electricity rebates — extended by four months, or an extra $200 — and an extended gas tax holiday.

“When you compare it to competitive provinces, it’s a significant relief that we’re providing,” Jones said, adding that the government hopes to start sending the monthly checks starting in January.

‘Back of the napkin’ plan: Notley

Reacting to Smith’s announcement Wednesday, Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley called it a poorly thought-out, ineffective plan that will leave about two million Albertans behind.

“It speaks to me of a plan that was rolled out very quickly, almost on the back of a napkin, by a pretty green premier,” Notley said.

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Notley said the promise to re-index benefits will not make up for the $3,000 vulnerable Albertans would have had if UCP had not de-indexed AISH in 2019.

“It’s a pre-election gift card that’s missing very significant families of Albertans who need support,” Notley said of the package, pointing to those who don’t have children, who are single, who aren’t on income support, who don’t drive car, or who are tenants not eligible for the province’s electricity rebate.

However, Notley declined Wednesday to estimate exactly how much taxpayer cash an NDP government would have offered, saying only that it would have dedicated more money to low-income Albertans.

The Condo Owners Forum Society of Alberta also called on Smith on Wednesday to open up the rules, so hundreds of thousands of condominiums could be eligible for discount programs.

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Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt called Tuesday’s announcement a political victory, but said Smith may have muddled his message by delving into other issues like the renamed Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act.

In a Wednesday interview with Postmedia, he said that seniors on fixed incomes and those on welfare are suffering more because of inflation, but it’s fair to note that seniors tend to vote more, and Smith is also looking to woo the political support from suburbs. mothers.

“Is this going to divide Albertans between those who get checks and those who don’t get checks, or will people (to say), ‘There’s a blunt instrument and I’m helped by the utilities and the gas tax and AISH is supported and they most vulnerable people are supported? Or will they say ‘I didn’t get my share?’” Bratt asked.

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On Tuesday, Smith also signaled that there will be support for low-income transit users.

Andrea Farmer, Jones’ press secretary, told Postmedia Wednesday that the department is unable to release a line-by-line breakdown of the $2.4 billion in spending while details are being finalized and legislation has not yet been presented or adopted, but updates are forthcoming.

Economist Trevor Tombe of the University of Calgary told Postmedia on Wednesday that the $600 payout is roughly equivalent to the increased expenses a typical family with two to three children earning less than $120,000 will experience due to high inflation.

But, he added, “you have families that are going to make $175,000 that get aid and then families that make $30,000 that don’t, so it’s, I think, an unfortunate decision.”

With files from Josh Aldrich

lijohnson@postmedia.com

twitter.com/reporttrix

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