February’s MLA Report

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Cameron Westhead MLA Banff-Cochrane
Cameron Westhead
MLA Banff-Cochrane

I know a lot of Alberta households are struggling and a lot of Albertans are concerned about the challenges in our economy. I’ve heard their concerns loud and clear and I’ve listened because those concerns are important and real.

That’s why we put so much effort into fine-tuning our approach to climate change. It’s why we insisted that every penny of the carbon levy remain in Alberta and be used to help Alberta families as we adjust to the new global realities that affect us all. It’s why we’ve chosen to be cautious and do things in incremental steps.

We are going to monitor the outcome of the carbon levy and other climate policies carefully to make sure we get the benefits Albertans want and need, and avoid any harmful outcomes. I’ve been listening and will continue to listen. We are all in this together and we all have to get it right.

Albertans often ask me how the Climate Leadership Plan will affect them and their families. It’s a good question. Three benefits stand out.

First, the Climate Leadership Plan paved the way for the approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, a historic decision that will open up new markets for our energy products, creating tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.

Second, the Climate Leadership Plan protects Albertans’ pocketbooks. Sixty per cent of Alberta families will get full carbon levy rebates, and cheques started arriving in January, 2017.

And third, all Albertans will benefit from energy efficiency programs that will save families money on their home heating bills.

These benefits from climate action are possible because the Climate Leadership Plan is made right here in Alberta – not Ottawa. It’s designed by Albertans, for Albertans. And that means our economy and our communities will see the most benefits from the actions we take.

A key part of the Climate Leadership Plan is the carbon levy. It went into effect on New Year’s Day. To protect family budgets, households will receive cash rebates to offset costs.

In addition, the small business tax is being cut by thirty-three per cent, saving small business owners about $185 million a year. With this cut, Alberta now has the second lowest small business tax rate in the country. And with no provincial sales tax, health premiums, or payroll tax, Alberta maintains a big tax advantage over our competitors.

Alberta has long been the only province in Canada without an energy efficiency program. As an energy leader, that just doesn’t make sense. So, starting early this year, Albertans will get help to make our homes and businesses more energy efficient. Programs will include free installation and rebates to improve energy efficiency and save money on our heating bills. There will also be incentives for businesses, non-profits and other institutions to install high-efficiency lighting, heating, cooling, and hot water systems.

These are just a few examples of how Albertans will benefit from putting a price on carbon. There’s much more, including investments in green energy, better infrastructure for our cities and towns, help for our coal workers and their communities, and an economy that’s ready for the future.

With the made-in-Alberta Climate Leadership Plan, Alberta is moving forward, taking our place as a global energy leader with new pipelines and new jobs in a stronger, more diversified economy.

Cameron Westhead
MLA for Banff-Cochrane