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June 25, 2017
February 24, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, February 24, 2017

Edmonton can likely still bank on funding from the Alberta government.

Written by Jeff Samsonow

 

Alberta’s fiscal fortunes are about the same as they were a year ago when the last budget came down. Though, things are looking up for this year’s economy, which could put more money into the province’s budget. In a province with the lowest tax rates around, something will eventually have to give in terms of how the provincial government brings in money.

We can hope for another oil boom (this time we REALLY won’t piss it away), but I think we may also see the discussion around a provincial sales tax (PST) take off in the next year. The more stable forms of revenue a government has, the better things could be long-term. Alberta’s been saddled with poor fiscal management from decades of Progressive Conservative governance – remember Ralph bucks? – and the “Alberta Advantage” was mostly low taxes.

Those cuts in the 1990s are really why we have seen a lot of spending the last decade or so in Alberta, and in Edmonton too, since major infrastructure wasn’t being built and maintained.

So, while there will be some howls and complaints about the provincial government running a deficit, a little bit of spending right now is needed. Edmonton, for example, wants lots of money for LRT expansion and supportive housing to help end homelessness, and that won’t come with a government that cuts just for the sake of cutting (and building things in a downturn also puts money into construction-related industries and jobs).

Let’s just hope that Alberta’s government – whatever the party in charge – saves money when it’s out of the red next time.


Public Education

A little bit of a follow-up on the news we talked about yesterday about your support for public/Catholic schools. Most people are in support of funding public schools. It doesn’t really matter, however, since the provincial government funds all schools in both systems with per-student dollars, and not according to how people designate their education-portion of property taxes.

It does raise interesting questions around having two provincially-funded school boards in Edmonton though.

And then there are private schools, also receiving provincial dollars. There’s a new call to end that. (It’s being linked to the provincial government’s tight budget, of course, on top of the question of where public dollars should go.)


Science!

Edmonton’s becoming a hub for research and technology related to artificial intelligence (AI). Great for the economy, bad for John Connor.

And the University of Alberta’s opened a unique new training centre for radiation therapy students.


First responders

The next time you’re in city hall, look for a new installation that remembers Edmonton first responders (police, fire, paramedic) who have died while doing their jobs. It includes a paramedic who killed himself after suffering from PTSD and depression – which is an important consideration when we’re talking about what is asked of those first on the scene of emergency situations.

Speaking of fire and rescue operations, Edmonton’s new tall towers will mean our response to fires has to be adjusted. Not an obvious effect of building these new towers.


The Mumps

We were talking about a longread from the CBC this week that looked at vacinnation rates across the province. Now we’ve got a whole lot of cases of mumps. (There is also an increase in mumps happening in Toronto.)


Chicken on the Way

If you’ve been around Edmonton for a while, then the restaurant name “Chicken on the Way” probably means something to you. I’m just finding out now that this was a place that fried chicken at the curbside OF YOUR HOME. The restaurant is coming back to Edmonton in the midst of our fried chicken renaissance, but no curbside cooking.