Posted on Jan 9, 2016

Happy New Year

Happy New Year Everyone!

Despite the tough economic times we are blessed with hope and optimism.

To help stimulate the economy and build infrastructure for the future our Government will continue to invest in Albertans and in our rural communities.

The Alberta Government Agriculture Initiatives Program has granted the Camrose Regional Exhibition and Agricultural Society $75,000 to support facility upgrades. This funding reflects the Government of Alberta’s strong support for agriculture and Alberta’s rural communities.

In late 2015 a grant of $50,000 was given to the Nipisihkopahk Education Authority from the Provincial First Nations Development Fund to help provide First Nations communities with resources required to support economic, social and community development projects.

Alder Flats received $61,251 in July and will receive an additional $529,079 for their wastewater expansion project from Municipal Affairs under the Small Communities Fund.

From the Gas Tax Fund to assist with building strong, safe and resilient communities, Millet will receive, $1,105,642 to build a treated water supply pipeline.

The City of Camrose will be receiving $10,000,000 in MSI funding for the public works stores and yard upgrades. Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding is to help communities build infrastructure.

Over $1.4 million for three County of Camrose projects has been approved to cover 2015 bridge rehabilitation projects, paving for Pelican Point Drive, and RR200.

The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations has approved a grant for pest control projects totaling $250,000 for the Samson Cree Nation.

An additional Ministry of Aboriginal Relations grant of $313,000 was approved for Montana First Nations workshops, professional services, housing repairs, events and Elders utilities.

The County of Ponoka will receive Small Communities Funds funding for its Menaik Road project. In July $93,573 was awarded and now an additional $808,275 will be put to the roadwork.

It has been confirmed that the City of Wetaskiwin will receive in 2016/17 Municipal Internship Program funding in the amount of $43,000.

I know there are individuals who do not consider that it is good debt to invest in schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, pipelines or infrastructure because unlike the “good debt” from our mortgage and car payments which when we finish we have a house and a car but in these other areas the things depreciate, age, get worn out and are displaced.

However, the benefits of services can also be considered good debt. We all will pay more for quality anything even if it cannot be resold or money made from it. Many services we get are invaluable and worth every nickel (can you imagine your city or county without roads and bridges? Or not having clean water to drink? Sewage systems?...neither can I).

After one such letter to the editor condemning infrastructure spending I received a message from Red Deer College outlining benefits to taxpayers, to students, and to society which stated for every dollar of taxpayers’ money RDC received they returned to Alberta’s economy was $2.20.

In addition, because with the investment of taxpayers’ dollars RDC exists, and has put back over $601 million back into the provincial economy. Investment in students is important financially because $1.3 million is the average amount that a university degree holder will earn over their working lifetime, compared to someone with a high school diploma. 95% of RDC graduates remain in Alberta becoming lifelong contributors to our roster of taxpayers. $3.2 million is amount non-resident students spend in Alberta each year. RDC calculates a saving of $10.2 million as the value of social savings related to reduced crime, fewer demands for income assistance and increased health and well-being across the province.  RDC employs over 1000 full and part-time workers who are also part of our income tax base.

I am sure Augustana Campus (University of Alberta) could make a similar case for the economic prosperity of Camrose.

Thankfully, this has been a mild winter so far, however, I would like to provide some information for support for utility consumers. Did you know Alberta has a Utility Consumer Advocate who works to ensure consumers have the information, representation, and protection they need to make informed choices in Alberta’s electricity and natural gas markets.

The Utility Consumer Advocate specializes in resolving consumer concerns with their bills through mediation with utility companies, including assistance related to debt repayment. You can call the Advocate toll-free at 310-4822.

Three financial assistance programs that exist to protect low income Albertans from utility disconnections resulting from arrears:

  • Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).
  • Income Support, Alberta Works.
  • Special Needs Assistance for Seniors.

If anyone requires assistance from one of these three specified social programs, you can call: 1-877-644-9992.

As directed by the “Electric Utilities Act” electricity services cannot be disconnected between October 15th and April 15th annually. Natural gas distributors will not disconnect consumers between November 1st and April 14th.

For your information there is an increase in the minor injury amount in Alberta. The Minor Injury Regulations (MIR) was implemented in 2004 as part of the automobile insurance reforms. It sets out the maximum amount a person with sprain, strain or minor whiplash injuries resulting from an automobile collision can claim for non-pecuniary (ie. Pain and suffering) damages. This amount is commonly referred to as the minor injury cap. The minor injury cap amount was put in place to balance the rights of people injured in automobile collisions and the sustainability of the automobile insurance industry. As of January 1, 2016 the minor injury cap will increase to $4,956.