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UCP Budget 2020: Debt will continue to soar

Alberta’s UCP government released their second budget Thursday with debt still soaring.

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Alberta’s UCP government released their second budget Thursday with debt still soaring.

With debt at $80.8 billion when they first took office in 2018, that figure is set to soar to $107 billion by the time the next election rolls around.

Spending over that time will remain essential frozen, reduced by just $1 billion when they took office from the NDP.

In fact, total spending will basically stay the same from $56.3 billion this year to $56.2 billion in 2022-23.

In 2020, the province forecasts a $6.8-billion deficit. That will drop to $2.7 billion next year before hitting a surplus of $700-million surplus the year after that.

“Third-quarter results show the deficit has declined more than expected. With the deficit $1.2 billion lower than projected in Budget 2019, Alberta taxpayers can expect to pay $35 million less in debt-servicing costs,” the government said in a release.

The Tory budget is banking on a $2.4 billion rebate from the feds under the fiscal stabilization program, which Premier Jason Kenney has touted as a way to make Equalization more fair.

The budget’s revenues assume oil prices will average WTI $61.50/barrel. Today it’s selling at $46.34.

The government is expecting a boom in revenue. From an estimated $50 billion this year to $58 billion in 2022-23.  That’s partly because an anticipated 38 per cent increase in energy royalties as oil production and pipeline capacity expand.

There is also a $750 million fund set aside in case of disasters like forest fires which could be used to boost a potential surplus if none happen.

Corporate welfare programs will also see a boom in funding, with $98 million set aside for the Alberta Film and Tax credit.

Budget 2020 also provides stable funding for health, education and core social services, the government says.

“Budget 2020 continues our focus on creating jobs, growing our economy and streamlining programs and services to ensure a sustainable future. Our plan is working. We are on track to balance the budget by 2022-23 and Alberta’s surplus in that year is expected to be higher than that projected in Budget 2019. We are also maintaining funding for health and education while ensuring each dollar is wisely spent on what Albertans need most,” said finance minister Travis Toews.

The NDP opposition were less than impressed with the budget.

“Budget 2020 is built on wildly optimistic forecasts for energy prices and economic growth, but still calls to collect $436 million in new fees, licenses and premiums from Albertans. The sneaky “bracket creep” personal income tax increase will extract another $100 million from families this year, escalating to $200 million next year and the $300 million the year after that,” said a release from the NDP.

“Albertans will pay far more and get far less,” said NDP leader Rachel Notley

“This budget offers no hope to the 50,000 Albertans who have lost their job since this government began on its misguided path, and in fact aims to push more public sector workers into unemployment. It contains no plan to diversify our economy.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation gave Budget 2020 mixed reviews.

 They said spending and the deficit is moving in the right direction, but hammered the government for increasing income taxes and provincial property taxes.

“Budget 2020 is two steps forward and one huge step back for taxpayers because there’s some much needed spending restraint and the deficit is moving in the right direction, but Premier Jason Kenney is digging deeper into our pockets with higher income taxes and property taxes,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta director for the CTF.

“After more than a decade of runaway government spending, Kenney deserves credit for taking air out of the government’s ballooning labour costs, which increased by billions of dollars even when Alberta went through a downturn.”

The CTF said the government is increasing income taxes through bracket creep which means inflation will push taxpayers into higher tax brackets even though their purchasing power hasn’t increased. The finance department has estimated that this would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Budget 2020 also increases provincial property taxes by 3.1 per cent this year.

“Premier Kenney promised taxpayers that he would balance the budget without raising taxes, but last year he bent that promise with the bracket creep income tax hike and this year he’s breaking that promise by hiking provincial property taxes,” said Terrazzano.

“Overspending by past governments on both sides got us into this mess, but breaking promises and raising taxes won’t help when the province really needs to get spending under control.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Kenney hits out against anti-mask protesters

Kenney has been under fire for not condemning the 500 protesters who showed up in Calgary to protest mandatory mask regulations. Rallies were also held in Red Deer and Edmonton.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has lashed out at protesters who refuse to wear masks – telling them to visit his friend in ICU if they think COVID-19 is a hoax.

Kenney has been under fire for not condemning the 500 protesters who showed up in Calgary last weekend to protest mandatory mask regulations. Rallies were also held in Red Deer and Edmonton.

“If you think this is a hoax, talk to my friend in the ICU, fighting for his life,” said Kenney during a live Facebook stream Thursday night.

“If you’re thinking of going to an anti-mask rally this weekend, how about instead send me an email, call me all the names you want, send me a letter, organize an online rally.”

Another rally is planned for Saturday in Calgary. The province has currently outlawed public gatherings of more than 10 people.

If you refuse to wear a mask, Kenney said: “Don’t go where you have to wear a mask.”

On Thursday, Alberta announced a new record daily figure for new coronavirus cases at 1,854. There were also an additional 14 deaths reported.

Alberta has had 63,023 cases of COVID-19 resulting in 575 deaths.

The province currently has the most active cases and second highest hospitalization rate of any Canadian province.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Edmonton server glassed after mask dispute with female customer

“I’m going to have a helluva scar on my face – and it all started over a stupid mask” says Erin Shaw

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An Edmonton pub server was glassed in the face after asking a female customer to put on a facemask.

Erin Shaw, a server at the Crown & Anchor Pub & Grill needed 14 stitches to close facial wounds after the Saturday attack.

“I’m going to have a helluva scar on my face,” Shaw told CTV. “And it all started over a stupid mask.”

The drama began after the attacker was asked to put on a mask as she walked around the pub visiting. She finally agreed and sat back down.

Tensions escalated when the woman tried to order booze after the province’s 10 p.m. cut-off.

Another customer then openly questioned how a person could not know the mask mandatory mask regulations. Shaw said the woman went and begin yelling at that customer.

“She got into a regular’s face, calling her the b-word and the c-word and all this and saying how she’s a young Black woman with rights.”

Shaw intervened and a verbal exchange ensued during which the female allegedly accused Shaw of being racist.

“No one brought up race but her.”

Later on surveillance camera footage at the family-owned pub shows Shaw motioning for the woman to leave. The two then approach each other and the fight is on.

“She stood on her tippy toes and got right in my face and I pushed her back and I said, ‘Please do not touch me. You need to leave. Have a good night. You are not welcome,’” Shaw told CTV.

“But she came up and went right for my throat. I said, ‘Do not effing touch me,’ pushed her back into the corner and said, ‘You need to leave.’”

It was then the woman grabbed a glass and smashed it into Shaw’s face. The server was then able to take the woman to the ground.

“I didn’t notice until after she got up and ran out that I was bleeding,” said Shaw.

“I wanted people to know this is happening and I wanted the government to take note of it and make sure that the workers who are working are safe.”

“I’ve had people saying my guardian angels were there. She didn’t break my nose, she didn’t give me a concussion, and she didn’t hurt my eye.”

But Shaw added she is worried about continually trying to help enforce provincial health restrictions.

“If the government wants me to keep policing people still and doing this, then they’re going to need to start paying me.” said Shaw.

Edmonton police are investigating the attack.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Violent Calgary killer on the run

Louis Bear now has more than 80 criminal convictions.

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Calgary police are warning that a violent killer – who was once shot by city police – is on the run.

On Wednesday, Louis Henry Bear, 42, failed to return to his approved halfway house in Calgary, said the Calgary Police Service in a release. Police added Bear’s current whereabouts are unknown, however, it is believed he may still be in the Calgary area.

Bear was previously convicted in the hit-and run deaths of Grant Liu, 26, and Brian Suh, 29, both of Calgary. The two men were standing beside parked cars outside the Whiskey nightclub on August 4, 2007, when Bear ran into them with a stolen vehicle.

He was sentenced to four years in prison, but because of time already served, he was released immediately.

In September of 2010, Calgary police shot Bear twice in the northeast community of Bridgeland. In that incident, he tried to mow several police officers down with his vehical. Police fired, stopping him. Bear survived the shooting.

He served three-and-a-half years in prison for that crime.

In 2018, Bear was put on statutory release even though the Parole Board of Canada said his “risk for violent and general reoffending is assessed as very high.” The parole board called Bear “reckless” and said he has “a pattern of escalation” with “risk-taking” fantasies, Global reported at the time.

The board said he has “historically viewed police and authorities as the ‘enemy,’ therefore justifying the use of violence.”

He now has more than 80 criminal convictions.

Bear is 5-ft.- 5ins., 170 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes. If spotted, citizens are asked not to approach Bear and to call the police immediately. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact police by calling the non-emergency number at 403-266-1234.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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