Cost of living: Find out where parties stand before Alberta votes
CBC News analyzes the top issues and sums up the campaign trail promises
"Things cost more than they used to" is an old truth oft-repeated by elders with the wisdom of long memories. But the increasing cost of living that was once a crawl has become a sprint, with the inflation rate hitting a nearly 40-year high last June before cooling steadily in the following months.
Alberta Is faring better than much of the country — a 3.3 per cent increase on the year-over-year consumer price index this March versus 4.3 per cent overall for Canada. But Albertans of all ages are feeling the pinch as trips to the grocery store and the pump take a bigger chunk of their paycheques.
To slow the economy and bring down inflation, the Bank of Canada has hiked interest rates eight times since March 2022 — a move that comes with its own pain points for those seeking loans and holding mortgages.
The current Alberta government has taken steps to lighten the load, the keystone being a $2.8-billion affordability package. That includes monthly $100 payments to eligible residents, a temporary halt to the 13.6-cent-per-litre provincial fuel tax, and a rebate on utilities. These measures are set to run their course by June — just after the election.
An issue more directly felt than many others on the ballot, parties of every stripe will want to offer a vision of how they will help Albertans struggling with the torqued cost of living.
— Analysis from Stephen Cook, CBC News
Below is a snapshot of party announcements on cost of living in recent weeks. The parties included are those that have previously elected an MLA or had 44 registered candidates by nomination day on May 11.
— Party announcements compiled by Kelsea Arnett, CBC News
- Explore feasibility of a single-source income support program managed by the province and co-funded by the federal government.
- Enact a provincial poverty and homelessness elimination strategy, which would seek to address the root causes of poverty.
- Stand for government funding to mitigate homelessness as long-term, predictable and aligned with a community plan.
- Stand for legislation, goals and initiatives being client-centred and community-driven.
- Stand for the planning process of programs and services to mitigate homelessness being evidence-informed and demonstrate measurable outcomes.
- Stand for all essential services and supports for the homeless being fully funded and maintained during the transition to permanent housing.
- Conduct a thorough review of existing poverty reduction programs and produce a comprehensive plan to support Alberta's working poor.
- Introduce a wage top-up program that will provide the working poor with targeted benefits while maintaining the incentive to work.
- Implement a policy to have financial literacy as part of the core curriculum in schools.
Alberta Liberal Party
- Double provincial government funding for the creation and maintenance of affordable housing.
- Work with municipalities to help fast-track the development of more housing projects, with a focus on housing for low- and middle-income Albertans.
- Eliminate school fees.
- $10 a day child care and work to address space shortages.
- Work with industry, experts and consumers to keep prices low and the electricity market sustainable .
- Continue current electricity price rebates but make them more broadly available.
- Support maintaining and enhancing current affordability programs in addition to implementing other methods of improving affordability.
- Support keeping the Canada Pension Plan.
Alberta New Democratic Party
- Will not raise personal income taxes. Source.
- House another 40,000 Albertans within the next five years.
- Expand mental health support and provide stable, predictable funding to shelters and agencies.
- Collaborate with Indigenous peoples and invest in more housing under a new Indigenous Housing Strategy.
- Reform income support and rental supplement programs. Source.
- Kids Activity Tax Credit would establish a tax-refundable credit of up to $500 per child each year that can be applied to the cost of any recreational or extracurricular programming. Source.
- Ensure 40,000 more Albertans access housing in government's first term.
- Build 8,500 more affordable homes, provide rental assistance to 11,000 more families and $120 million to the Indigenous Capital Housing Program.
- Fund more wrap-around supports within affordable housing and create a rent bank to protect housing for Albertans when they face a crisis like job loss or a family emergency. Source.
- Immediately increase the value of the seniors benefit, income supports and Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) payments. Source.
- Increase funding for Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) by 50 per cent. Source.
- Will eliminate small business taxes for more than 100,000 small businesses, including retail establishments, restaurants, mechanic shops, family farms, and more.
- Will not introduce a provincial sales tax.
- Bring back the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) program. Source.
- Cap auto insurance rates and lower utility bills. Source.
- $65 million over three years in new energy savings grants for farms, agribusiness, and forestry to reduce heat and electricity costs.
- Capping utility costs up to 600 kWhs per month and paying down the debt, saving families on the Regulated Rate Option almost $450. Source.
United Conservative Party of Alberta
- Create a new eight per cent tax bracket on income lower than $60,000.
- Extend the fuel tax holiday until Dec. 31, 2023.
- Continue to index all tax brackets to keep up with inflation.
- Work to remove the federal carbon tax.
- No Tax Hike Guarantee committing to not increasing personal or business income tax, formalized through expanding the Taxpayer Protection Act. Source.
- Will create a 25 per cent seniors' discount automatically applied when seniors go to a registry to access government services or book a camping spot, and a new billing code will be created to discount medical driving tests.
- Implement a 10-year housing strategy, Stronger Foundations, which will add 25,000 affordable housing units over 10 years.
- If elected, will spend $1 billion over next three years to build, repair, expand and operate affordable and seniors housing in partnership with the federal government.
- Will spend $7.4 million to expand elder abuse shelters.
- Will spend $3.5 million to Healthy Aging Alberta to expand rural transportation for seniors.
- Will spend $105 million for Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) to help support local senior centres and services.
- Will spend $3.86 billion over three years for continuing care and home care.
- Provided $600 in inflation relief payments to seniors while in government.
- Introduced rebates for electricity and natural gas bills and suspended the provincial fuel tax. Source.
- Ensure all Albertans have access to $10-a-day child care by 2026.
- $3.8 billion over five years in Alberta's child-care system.
- Created 11,063 new child-care spaces with another 15,500 this year. Source.
- An earlier version of this article incorrectly specified the timeframe in which the Bank of Canada hiked interest rates.May 22, 2023 9:41 AM MT