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WATCH: The Pipeline November 4, 2020

Drew Barnes, UCP MLA for Cyprus-Medicine Hat pops in for a surprise visit to tell us why he is supporting an NDP motion against the wishes of his own party.

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Alberta reduces deficit by nearly $3 billion; debt now $97.4 billion

Toews said Alberta’s economy is gradually emerging from the depths of the downturn.

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Alberta’s UCP says government spending restraint and improving revenues has cut this year’s deficit $2.8 billion and now sits at $21.3 billion.

“Alberta was the first province to introduce an economic recovery plan in response to COVID-19, and we will also be the first to introduce a comprehensive plan to bring Alberta back to prosperity,” said Finance Minsyer Travis Toews in an economic update Tuesday.

“The foundation of the next provincial budget will be to bring spending in line with other jurisdictions, keep the net debt-to-GDP ratio well below 30 per cent, and have a plan for balancing the budget as we get through the pandemic and there is more economic certainty.”

Toews said expenses not including COVID-19 measures have decreased $156 million from Budget 2020.

Total expense is forecast at $62.7 billion, up $135 million from last quarter and $5.4 billion from Budget 2020.

“The additional spending is for health care, personal protective equipment, municipal grants, financial supports to Albertans and businesses to help with the effects of the pandemic, and stimulus initiatives detailed in Alberta’s Recovery Plan. Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast to be $97.4 billion by the end of the fiscal year, a reduction of more than $2 billion since first quarter,” the government said.

“The revenue forecast is nearly $3 billion higher than last quarter, at $41.4 billion. The increase from first quarter is due to improved forecasts for non-renewable resource revenue, gaming revenue, investment income, and transfers from the Government of Canada.”

Toews said Alberta’s economy is gradually emerging from the depths of the downturn.

Alberta’s real GDP is expected to contract 8.1 per cent rather than the 8.8 per cent reported in August.

Real GDP is expected to fully recover to 2014 levels in 2023.

Alberta has also seen a significant rebound in employment already this year, recovering more than 258,000 of the 360,900 jobs lost between February and April, said the UCP.

The UCP is also again renewing calls to the federal fiscal stabilization program which was capped 30 years ago at $60 per person.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on Toews to reprioritize belt-tightening.

“The dismal fiscal update needs to be a wake up call for Toews to tighten the belt on government spending,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the CTF.

“It’s been months since the first bad-news budget update, but we haven’t seen Toews get serious about fixing the government’s spending and debt problem.”

The interest costs on the debt are expected to be $2.4 billion this year, which is more than $500 per Albertan, said the CTF.

The Alberta government has the highest per-person spending in Canada, according to the Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s finances. The panel also found that Alberta would spend $10.4 billion less every year if its per-person spending was in line with B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

Departments such as Advanced Education, Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Parks, Service Alberta and Transportation are all projecting higher operating spending than what was included in the 2020 budget.

“We shouldn’t see multiple non-health-care departments increasing their spending. Many families and businesses have been cutting back on nice-to-haves, and the government needs to do the same,” said Terrazzano.

“Toews has to do a better job saving money and reducing spending because struggling Albertans can’t afford higher taxes.”

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

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CTF demands Horgan reduce size of B.C. cabinet

The CTF said there are currently 22 cabinet ministers and eight parliamentary secretaries in the B.C. cabinet.

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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says NDP Premier John Horgan should reduce the size of his new cabinet to save money and to keep in step with everyday British Columbians.

“Many hardworking British Columbians have had their salaries reduced or they’ve lost their jobs during the COVID-19 economic crisis and it would be a good move for Premier Horgan to form a cabinet that is 15 per cent smaller than his last one,” said Kris Sims, B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in a statement.

“By reducing the size of his new cabinet and reducing their salaries, the premier will save taxpayers’ money and show that we are all in this together.”

The CTF said there are currently 22 cabinet ministers and eight parliamentary secretaries in the B.C. cabinet. Reducing the number by 15 per cent would keep the number to 19 cabinet ministers and seven parliamentary secretaries.

B.C. cabinet ministers are currently paid a salary of more than $166,000 plus living allowances, and if they reduced their salaries by 15 per cent it would bring the remuneration down to $141,000 plus living expenses.

“Reducing the size and cost of government would show solidarity with struggling taxpayers and help this government to understand what average people are going through,” said Sims. 

Cabinet ministers in B.C. who are in office for more than six years are in line for very generous pensions when they reach the age of 65, with many typically being paid more than $70,000 per year upon retirement.

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

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Bloc demands no more concessions on dairy deals

Canada’s dairy farms are under strict government controls on what they can produce.

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The Bloc Quebecois has introduced a motion to stop for federal Liberals from making any more trade deals that allow greater access to the countries dairy system.

Canada’s dairy farms are under strict government controls on what they can produce.

The amount of foreign access to the market has also been tightly regulated but the Liberals last three trade deals allow foreign countries greater access into the market, said the Bloc.

“Something very important for milk and egg and poultry production is given away as a token and nothing comes back for those producers, so we say in the law that this should not happen anymore,” Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet told CBC News.

“[The Liberal government says,] ‘Oh, we will will compensate you. And you know what, they don’t.”

The CBC reported Bloc Québécois MP Louis Plamondon’s legislation, Bill C-216, would amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act to state that the minister “must not make any commitment … by future trade treaty or agreement” that would increase the tariff rate quota (TRQ) applicable to dairy products, poultry or eggs, or reduce the tariff applicable to those goods when they are imported in excess of that quota.

The private member’s bill is up for its debate on Tuesday.

Blanchet slammed Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland for delaying her fall economic update and said her spending plans must include the new NAFTA deal compensation farmers are waiting for.

“This money is owed, is expected [and] is terribly late,” he told CBC.

The economic statement is set for Nov. 30.

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

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