Effects of minimum wage and carbon levy hikes exaggerated

By Bruce Hinkley, MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose

Welcome to 2018! Alberta finished 2017 as the top province in Canada for economic growth - retail sales, manufacturing, GDP - and continues to be among the lowest taxed of all the Canadian provinces.

Also, interesting to note three candidates for the Premiership of Ontario (election this spring) includes both the Conservative Patrick Brown and Liberal Kathleen Wynne have both said “yes” to the carbon tax. Brown is taking an opposite position to Alberta conservatives when he says climate change is real.

Minimum wages have (and will) increase and our economy has not been killed. Fast food corporations continue to make profits. Alberta‘s economy for another year will lead the country.

The service sector in Alberta added 26,000 jobs in 2016 after a minimum wage increase. That sector added another 12,000 jobs last year after an additional increase. Restaurant and bar receipts in Alberta are at record highs right now. There is no credibility to the claim that a minimum wage increase causes massive job losses, or that it harms the economy.

The carbon levy has not destroyed the economy either. Tracking my carbon levy payments (for one truck, one car and heating my home) came out to $205.26 for 2017. That is nowhere near the $2,000, $3,000 or $5,000 so speculatively predicted by some. According to the website “GasBuddy” Albertans in 2017 on average paid less per litre (20 cents/litre less) than in 2014 and $2.80 less per gigajoule of natural gas this year than in 2014. Households and transportation companies actually paid less in 2017 on the cost of driving their car/truck or heating their home than they did in 2014. Both the Consumer Price Index and rate of inflation stayed rock bottom low in 2017.

Those families with children in the $25/day daycares will save about $300/child per month or $3,600 for one child for the year and a whopping $7,200 for two children for the year. In 2018 the number of such daycares will increase from 22 to 97. Hopefully there will be more applications from Wetaskiwin and Camrose daycares to do this. Young families with children in approved daycares will see how this program is making their life better.

Some recent provincialmunicipal partnerships in our constituency include Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding to Bittern Lake ($12,000 for signage and bench purchases; $16,500 for administration building security upgrades) and to the County of Wetaskiwin ($75,000 for the Mulhurst Bay Community League Hall roof replacement; $51,508 for the Winfield Agriculture Society Agriplex upgrade). MSI funding assists our municipalities in building strong, safe, and resilient communities while respecting local priorities.

The City of Camrose is receiving $33,000 from the Community and Regional Economic Supports program for a diversification initiative that will include data collection and analysis for developing marketing tools to help Camrose grow a diversified economy.

Have great week everyone; more sunshine on the way every day.

First published Jan. 11, 2018, in the Camrose Canadian