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CTF says businesses, not taxpayers, should be paying for wage top-ups

The wage top-ups are expected to cost taxpayers $465 million, including $118 million in funding from the Alberta government. Up to $170 million is eligible for private-sector employees.

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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is questioning the Alberta government’s decision to provide wage top-ups for essential businesses’ employees amid lockdowns that have devastated local small and medium-sized enterprises.

The wage top-ups are expected to cost taxpayers $465 million, including $118 million in funding from the Alberta government. The rest is federal money. Up to $170 million is eligible for private-sector employees.

Essential workers in the health-care, social services, education and private sectors who deliver critical services to Albertans or support food and medical supply chains are eligible for the benefit.

“We’re thankful for the hard work and important services these Albertans are providing, but businesses should be paying the wage top-ups, not struggling taxpayers,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta Director.

About 380,000 Alberta public and private sector workers, including 36,000 in education, will receive $1,200.00 each as part of the Critical Worker Benefit. The benefit applies to those who worked a minimum of 300 hours from October 12, 2020, to January 31, 2021.

Rather than increasing spending to provide support to select businesses, the CTF calls for tax relief that supports all struggling businesses.

“Many of these businesses have been able to stay open throughout much of the pandemic, and struggling Albertans shouldn’t be forced to pay higher taxes to cover this payout,” said Terrazzano.

Premier Jason Kenney praised frontline workers for their continued sacrifice and hard work during the Wednesday announcement.

The wage top-ups recognize their good work, said the premier, which trusts this support will help them continue to protect lives and livelihoods during the pandemic.

“It’s one thing to help struggling restaurants and gyms keep their lights on through government-imposed lockdowns, but this announcement is covering the costs of many businesses who have been able to stay open,” said Terrazzano.

“The Alberta government was on the right track to help job creators by lowering the business tax rate, and it should expand that help by cutting the small business tax,” he said.

The Critical Workers Benefit breakdown includes:

  • $195 million in the health-care sector, supporting more than 161,000 workers.
  • Up to $55 million toward the social services sector, supporting more than 45,000 workers.
  • Up to $45 million toward the education sector, supporting more than 36,000 workers.
  • Up to $170 million toward the private sector, supporting more than 140,000 workers.

Dhaliwal is the Western Standard’s Edmonton based correspondent

News

Rebel UCP MLA Barnes blasts Kenney on COVID and a PST

Barnes said his Cypress-Medicine Hat constituents are “suffering extreme fatigue” and are frustrated Premier Jason Kenney didn’t open more of the province

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Renegade UCP MLA Drew Barnes is blasting his own government with two barrels – over COVID-19 lockdown regulations and a possible provincial sales tax.

Barnes said his Cypress-Medicine Hat constituents are “suffering extreme fatigue” and are frustrated Premier Jason Kenney didn’t open more of the province on Tuesday when he announced a slight relaxation of some restrictions.

Despite reaching benchmark to move onto Phase 2 of reopening, Kenney only allowed gyms to start offering some services and for libraries to open at 15 per cent capacity.

“Some of my colleagues (in caucus) are finally starting to push back – it’s going to be an interesting few weeks in politics,” Barnes said in an interview with the Western Standard.

Barnes tweet

“The government has lost the trust of some people here. The benchmarks were set and met. Albertans have done the hard work. But now the mental and economic crisis is just as bad as the COVID crisis.

Barnes noted his area only has about 10-12 COVID-19 cases at the moment.

“I’ve had a few people tell me they are just going to open now regardless. I’m urging everone to respect the rules,” Barnes said.

“I’m calling on Premier Kenney and the Chief Medical Officer of Health to recognize the mental and economic crisis is just as bad as the COVID-19 one.”

At a press conference this week, Kenney again refused to rule out introducing a PST – and Barnes again blasted the idea.

“It is time for the government to make some strong decisions when it comes to getting its spending in line,” Barnes told the Western Standard.

Barnes tweet

He noted experts have said if Alberta brought its spending in line with other provinces, it could reduce the deficit to nothing.

“It’s time for taxpayers to start demanding more for their money,” he said.

Barnes has been critical of his UCP on numerous policies – from centralizing EMS dispatch to the slowness of bringing in a provincial police force.

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

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News

Wheatland County calls on Kenney to hold an independence referendum

The resolution calls for an independence referendum in October 2021. The province already has a vote set for October this year an equalization.

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An Alberta county has adopted a motion demanding the provincial government take more steps to get autonomy from Ottawa and even hold a referendum on independence next year.

The motion in Wheatland County passed by a vote of 5-2 Tuesday night and will now be forwarded to Premier Jason Kenney and his cabinet.

The resolution calls for an independence referendum in October 2021. The province already has a vote set for October this year an equalization.

The motion’s sponsor, Coun. Jason Wilson, told the Western Standard feelings of alienation continue to grow in the county, southeast of Calgary.

And they aren’t too happy with Kenney and his COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“It continues to go from bad to worse,” said Wilson, admitting he has coffee with some of his constituents, also a breach of pandemic laws.

He said the fiasco that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vaccine rollout has become shows Alberta is better to go it alone.

Jason Wilson

“This proves how little Alberta needs Canada. If we were independent, we could have everyone vaccinated by now,” said Wilson adding his area’s disappointment that Kenney’s loosening of regulations on Monday only allowed libraries to reopen.

“By sending the motion to Premier Kenney we hope to see a different approach from them and a faster pace of things.”

The Kenney government has made slight steps to getting a better deal for the province in Confederation. He has formed the Alberta Parole Board and set up panels to study other issue like taxation and setting up a provincial police force.

Wilson’s motion called for an end to equalization payments, the creation of a provincial police force, be in charge of collecting Alberta income tax revenue and control of immigration.

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

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Energy

U.S. environmental groups poured $2.4 billion in 2019 to further climate change ideology

Ludwig warned had the finances from these groups also been included, the final numbers might be double or even three times current figures.

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New research from the Capital Research Center, an American-based think tank, reveals environmental groups poured a record $2.4 billion in 2019 to further left-wing climate change ideology.

“This stunning figure contrasts with the environmentalist movement’s self-image as David vs. Goliath: impoverished, idealistic eco-activists outgunned by powerful interests in the “fossil fuel” industry,” said its Senior Investigative Researcher, Hayden Ludwig.

He said Liberals have long claimed the Right outguns environmentalists despite holding the country’s best-funded special interests.

However, a 2018 misleading study measuring the income of broadly right-leaning groups focused on a host of issues, including welfare, telecom regulation, agricultural policy, etc., to produce the claim conservatives spend $1 billion per year to stop action on climate change, amounting to a 10 to 1 disparity with environmental groups.

CRC examined the finances of 166 left-leaning policy, activist, litigation, and research organizations along with any associated political action committees (PACs) that primarily focus on climate change or environmental regulation. 

The think-tank captured their revenues, expenditures, and the amounts of grants they paid out in 2019 using publicly available Form 990 findings.

Their inquiry found these organizations raked in $2.67 billion from donors, nearly all of whom remain undisclosed. These organizations, including special interests, spent a whopping $2.43 billion paying staffers, attorneys, activists, professional fundraisers, and researchers and lobbying for environmental regulations. 

“In the case of 501(c)(4) groups and PACs, they also helped elect Democrats and oppose Republicans in the 2019-2020 election cycle,” said Ludwig, as mostly left-leaning nonprofits received $435 million in grants.

“These figures don’t include lobbying by private firms for renewables subsidies, left-wing groups with a broader focus than climate change or the environment or eco-Right groups, self-identified “conservative” organizations that support carbon taxes and other global warming policies.” 

He warned had the finances from these groups also been included, the final numbers might be double or even three times current figures.

“The tax status of these organizations sheds light on the distribution of funds within the environmental movement,” said Ludwig. 

With 111 of 166 groups IRS-designated 501(c)(3) public charities, donations provided to them are tax-deductible. The 501(c)(3) nonprofits account for the overwhelming majority of finances CRC traced.

CRC traced 83.95 per cent or $2.24 billion of the $2.7 billion in total revenues uncovered, 83.1% of $2.02 billion of the $2.4 billion in total expenditures found, and 78.5% or $342 million of the $435 million in grants paid.

Of the 166 groups, 46 are 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofits, which are permitted to spend significantly more on lobbying than their 501(c)(3) counterparts. 

The top 20 biggest spenders also number among the loudest voices pushing environmental regulations:

  1. World Wildlife Fund: $236 million
  2. Environmental Defense Fund: $188.6 million
  3. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): $173 million
  4. Sierra Club: $150 million
  5. World Resources Institute: $120.8 million
  6. National Audubon Society: $118 million
  7. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): $109.9 million
  8. Sierra Club Foundation: $93.9 million
  9. National Wildlife Federation: $89.7 million
  10. EarthJustice: $78 million
  11. League of Conservation Voters: $66.5 million
  12. NextGen Climate Action Committee: $56.8 million
  13. NextGen Climate Action: $54 million
  14. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): $53.5 million
  15. Rocky Mountain Institute: $45 million
  16. Resources Legacy Fund: $42.3 million
  17. Union of Concerned Scientists: $40.7 million
  18. Greenpeace: $37.7 million
  19. Oceana: $36 million
  20. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund: $34.8 million

“These are the titans of “Green” Activism Inc. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars to pass the socialist Green New Deal and promote radical global warming legislation that promises to jack up household electricity prices and enable the Left’s war on science,” said Ludwig.

Dhaliwal is the Western Standard’s reporter based in Edmonton.

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