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Money Fees and families: How Alberta's budget will affect household bottom lines

07:30  27 october  2019
07:30  27 october  2019 Source:   edmontonjournal.com

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Many Alberta families could see their day-to-day expenses rise under the province’ s new budget , tabled by the United Conservatives in the legislature Thursday. Among the cuts is one to the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program

Here' s how the new budget will affect Albertans' individual bottom lines . The budget documents forecast revenues from personal income tax to increase by .3 billion, or an average of That means Calgary, which just cut its own budget , will have to make even deeper cuts, raise taxes and fees , or

a man wearing a suit and tie: Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews speaks about Budget 2019, the United Conservative Party's first since winning the 2019 provincial election, during a news conference at the Federal Building in Edmonton on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. © Ian Kucerak Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews speaks about Budget 2019, the United Conservative Party's first since winning the 2019 provincial election, during a news conference at the Federal Building in Edmonton on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019.

Many Alberta families could see their day-to-day expenses rise under the province’s new budget, tabled by the United Conservatives in the legislature Thursday.

Among the cuts is one to the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program, which provides a living allowance to Albertans who have a permanent medical condition preventing them from earning a living.

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Here' s how the new budget will affect Albertans' individual bottom lines . That means Calgary, which just cut its own budget , will have to make even deeper cuts, raise taxes and fees , or Alberta looks to private sector and pipelines to deliver better times . The Alberta government has built a

Here' s how the new budget will affect Albertans' individual bottom lines . The budget documents forecast revenues from personal income tax to increase by .3 billion, or an That means Calgary, which just cut its own budget , will have to make even deeper cuts, raise taxes and fees , or some

That allowance was previously indexed to inflation, but the budget puts a pause on that indexing — a move that critics say amounts to a cut.

“This, to me, is downright petty. It’s mean-spirited,” said Glenn Miller, an AISH recipient living in Edmonton. “It seems very small and trivial, maybe, to Premier Kenney, but he’s drawing a big salary while we’re on limited income.”

Finance Minister Travis Toews justified the paused indexing, saying Alberta gives more than similar programs elsewhere in the country.

“We put great priority in caring for the most vulnerable, and we know Albertans give that great priority,” Toews said. “In Alberta, our monthly AISH support payments are $400 higher per month than the next-most generous province.”

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The budget notes Alberta ’ s courts are still dependent on paper records and processes that are decades old. “This will digitally transform court records Fees and families : How budget will affect household bottom lines | Edmonton Journal. Alberta budget 2019: Cities, universities, civil servants

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As of July 2019, 1.5 per cent of Albertans were receiving benefits through AISH as primary recipients.

Organizations that provide services to those facing poverty worry the belt-tightening budget could increase strain on their operations. Edmonton’s Food Bank executive director Marjorie Bencz said that budget cuts can represent an indirect downloading of costs to non-profit groups.

“If there’s a negative impact on low-income people, over time, we’ll see that surface,” Bencz said. “People may need the food bank more frequently or people who haven’t used the food bank may need it if they’re very close to the line, because of cuts.”

The budget — the largest cut to provincial spending on programs in 25 years — projects an $8.7-billion deficit. It puts the province on pace for a modest surplus budget by 2022–23.

Here’s some other parts of the budget poised to impact families.

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+ Senior tax specialist Cleo Hamel expects 2017 will be kind to low income families in Alberta with new provincial and federal benefits targeting those earners. “We have a lot of families who were six-income earners who are now working minimum wage jobs, barely making ,000, ,000 a year

Provincial fees

The budget comes with increases to a number of provincial fees.

Notably, licence plate fees for motor vehicles jump under the new budget, with costs for operator/passenger vehicles rising from $75 to $80 and the price for non-commercial trailers going from $100 to $150.

Some parts of land title fees double, with registration fees for land transfers or mortgages rising from $1 to $2 per $5,000 of the value of the land, in addition to base fees.

“Increases to motor vehicle and land titles fees are estimated to add about $9 million to 2019–20 revenue, growing to $41 million by 2022–23,” the budget reads.

Elsewhere, the fee to receive a statement of benefits paid from a visit to a public health provider is rising from $25 to $75.

Rental Assistance program

The budget projects savings of $44 million through a 24 per cent reduction over three years to its Rental Assistance program, beginning in 2020–2021. The province says it will honour existing rental assistance agreements.

For Ayanna Innis, the executive director of the Northern Alberta Housing Co-operative Association, the cuts are disappointing but unsurprising.

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“We’re actively looking for longer-term solutions for our residents and it’s a little bit disappointing because we’d like to see the provincial government be a partner in that,” Innis said. “We all know that we’re going to have to find additional ways to support our residents because it’s not going to come from the province.”

The budget indicates the province may look to the private sector to lessen the burden for low-income renters.

“The (Seniors and Housing) department will rigorously pursue partnerships with the (Housing Management Bodies) and private sector to reduce the public costs of affordable housing while effectively serving people in need,” reads the budget.

School transportation

The amount of money allocated to shuttling students to and from school is dropping by $13 million in 2019–20, a level of funding that will be maintained through 2022–23.

With student enrolment continuing to rise, it’s another cut that will have a cascading effect in future years, as parents will likely be asked to foot more of the bill for busing, says Edmonton Public Schools board chairwoman Trisha Estabrooks.

“We do know that the cost to transport students across and around this city is expensive, and unfortunately seeing a reduction in the grant that helped support and offset some of that cost is going to have a real impact on our families,” Estabrooks said.

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Alberta Child and Family Benefit

A newly introduced program, the Alberta Child and Family Benefit (ACFB) rolls two previous provincial aids — the Alberta Child Benefit and the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit — into one, a move the province says lowers administrative costs and simplifies payments.

Those two programs provided just less than $5,000 per year to families, at the high end. The maximum payout of ACFB is $5,120.

The program works with a base component and a working component. All families eligible for the ACFB receive the base component while the working component is only given to a family with an employment income exceeding $2,760. The working component is phased in as families earn more, encouraging them to join or remain in the workforce, according to the budget.

Receipt of the base component of funding is phased out starting when family net income reaches $24,467, with funding fully phased out at an income of $41,000.

With files from Lisa Johnson

jherring@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jasonfherring

300 teachers to be cut, fees increased as CBE struggles under tough Alberta budget .
Public schools are facing the loss of more than 300 teaching jobs, increased class sizes and significant fee increases in response to the UCP’s tough budget presented almost two weeks ago. Expressing shock and disbelief, officials with the Calgary Board of Education estimate that provincial cuts to three critical grants, including the classroom improvement fund and the class size initiative fund, will result in a $32-million reduction for this school year.

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