Many Albertans will receive financial relief from the provincial government amid the ongoing inflation and affordability crisis, Premier Danielle Smith announced Tuesday night.
During a televised address, Smith revealed her government’s plans to provide a payment of $600 over the next six months for every child under 18 in lower-income families.
The threshold for the child benefit is that the family earns less than $180,000 a year.
She said such payments would also be made to seniors and people receiving benefits from Insured Income for the severely disabled and persons with developmental disabilities.
Smith also reiterated her government’s plan to re-index benefits for seniors and AISH recipients that were de-indexed by the United Conservatives in 2019.
READ MORE: Alberta premier issues mandate letters to ministers focusing on inflation, highlights ‘affordability crisis’
She also announced that Alberta will waive its gasoline tax for the next six months and will increase the rebate amount that Alberta households and small businesses already receive on their electricity bills to an amount “that totals an additional $200 per household amounts to.”
Accusing the federal government of causing inflation through government spending and attacking Alberta’s economy, Smith said Alberta’s fiscal situation is in a position where the government is able to provide financial relief to citizens who need it.
“These are just first steps and there is much more to do,” she said.
In a statement released after Smith’s speech, Opposition Leader Rachel Notley accused Smith’s United Conservative government of contributing to the affordability crisis and said the UCP was trying to address the issue by “reversing their own bad decisions.”
‘We’re not buying it’: Rachel Notley reacts to Premier Smith’s televised address
“We don’t buy it. And neither should you,” Notley said, adding that if her New Democrats won the spring election, her party would “permanently reverse the UCP’s cuts to child and family benefit, seniors’ benefit, income support and AISH. “
“And we will go further. We’ll take action on the things you don’t have a choice to pay for, like groceries, utilities, insurance, gas, tuition and housing.”
Smith hints at her plans once MPs return to the legislature
MLAs will return to the Alberta Legislature on November 29 for the new legislative session. In her speech Tuesday, Smith accused the federal government of infringing on what she called Alberta’s constitutional right to develop and export its resources and to make decisions about how to deliver services in the policy realms of things. such as health care and education and also criticized equalization. payments.
She said she expects her controversial sovereignty bill, which she proposed would allow Alberta to opt out of any federal policy the provincial government believes is not in its interests, to be tabled next week.
READ MORE: First Nations leaders oppose Alberta premier’s sovereignty bill
Smith became prime minister when she won the UCP leadership contest last month. The next provincial election will take place on 29 May.
Without going into detail, Smith said she had spoken with Health Minister Jason Copping about implementing reforms in the health care system, noting that she believed spending more money on the system was not necessarily the answer. is to improve it.
“We have way too many managers and consultants,” she said. “Albertans wait too long for emergency treatment.”
She said her government’s priorities for health care reform are to reduce emergency room wait times, improve ambulance response times and reduce surgery wait times “by using specialized surgical centers and underutilized rural hospitals and operating theaters that are just sitting empty.” .”
READ MORE: Alberta NDP calls on Premier Danielle Smith to come clean on pursuit of health care user fees
The NDP called on Smith to voice her support for public health care in light of her writing a policy paper last year before re-entering politics in which she suggested the province was no longer able to pay for universal social programs paid for entirely by taxpayers. She floated the idea of health spending accounts to get citizens used to helping pay for their own health care.
over the weekend, Smith tweeted she was “committed to public health.”
More to come…
– With files from Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
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