Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA): An organization that advocates on behalf of Alberta’s municipalities to various levels of government as well as provides an opportunity for municipalities to work together to reach mutual goals.
The AUMA’s board is composed of a President, two directors from Calgary, two directors from Edmonton, three directors from Cities with a population of up to 500,000, three from Towns, three from Villages and one representing Summer Villages. These board members must be elected officials from their respective municipality.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): A project to collect carbon dioxide from emitters (ie power plants, refineries, etc) and transport it to an underground storage facility with the purpose of avoiding release into the atmosphere. Alberta committed $1.3 billion over 15 years to two CCS projects (Alberta Carbon Trunk Line and Quest Project). This plan was first announced in 2010 under Premier Ed Stelmach. Newly elected Premier Jim Prentice announced in Oct 2014 that, although Alberta will proceed with committed CCS projects, no further CCS projects will be funded.
There are several concerns with CCS: 1) the long term impacts of the buried waste material, 2) it is at best a bandaid solution to a bigger problem of our dependence on technology that emits huge amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, 3) it is costly – both the requirements needed to enable capture the CO2 at the project and the need to transport and store it make it an expensive project.
Charitable Donation Tax Credit: In Alberta’s 2015 budget, the Prentice government announced that the tax credit for donations to charities would be cut from 21% to 12.75% on donations over $200. This means that a $500 donation to charities that the tax credit would be reduced from $63 to $38.25 for the portion of the donation above $200. This decision was expected to save the Alberta government $90 million annually. However, it caused a significant backlash from the non-profit sector as they worried about the impact that this would have on the donations that they rely upon. On April 21st, 2015, Prentice backtracked on the decision and as such, if re-elected, the Prentice government will not change the tax credit percentages.
Calgary Young Offender Centre (CYOC): in March 2015, the Alberta government announced that they will be shutting down the Calgary Young Offenders Centre and moving the young offenders that occupy the Calgary location to Edmonton. The Calgary location handled young offenders from all of southern Alberta. This was done as a cost saving measure but has been criticized as a short sighted decision by many in the legal community. The main concern is that displacing youth from family will hinder their rehabilitation and once they leave the program, they would lose the resources that they have in Edmonton upon their release when they move back to southern Alberta.
Cap and Trade: a market system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emission by incentivizing the innovation and efficiency. In such a system, a business would have a predetermined quota of emissions. If they are below that quota, they can sell credits to companies who are not able to lower their emissions to their quota.
Carbon Tax: a dedicated tax paid based on the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from burning fuels. For example, British Columbia charges $30 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon Levy: Alberta charges a $15 per tonne levy for exceeding the intensity targets provided by the Alberta government. If the emitter is below the intensity target, the company pays nothing. This system has been criticized for having too high of intensity targets. Companies, in Alberta, generally less than $1 per tonne of their CO2 emission.
City Charter: In October 2014, the cities of Calgary and Edmonton agreed to a framework agreement with the provincial government of a city charter. Such a charter could provide additional legislative powers and amend the method of funding. The details are to be worked out by spring 2016.
Family and Community Support Services (FCSS): A joint provincial/municipal grant program that funds organizations as they try to support the challenges of Albertans and their families. Examples of organizations that have received funding from FCSS include Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Immigrant Services Calgary, North West Edmonton Seniors Society. FCSS is 80% funded by the provincial government and 20% funded by municipalities. FCSS funding has been frozen at $74.8 million (0.2% of the provincial budget) since 2009.
Flat Income Tax structure: In 2000, the Alberta government brought in a 10% flat tax for all incomes above the basic annual threshold. As such, someone making $2,000,000 would pay the same percentage of income tax above the basic annual amount as someone making $50,000. This was eliminated in 2015 as Jim Prentice brought in two additional tax brackets – one above $100,000 and one above $250,000 – which would pay higher tax percentages on their income.
Health Levy: in Budget 2015, Jim Prentice announced that any person making from $50,000-$70,000 would pay up to $200 per year for a health levy. $70,000 – $90,000 would pay up to $400 per year. $90,000 to $110,000 would pay up to $800 and anyone making over $130,000 would pay up to $1,000 per year. Alberta had a health care premium system that was eliminated in 2009.
Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs): school clubs that are designed to provide a safe place for LGBT youth in their school environment. Studies have shown that GSAs have positive impacts on the lives of LGBT youth and reduce bullying and suicide. Alberta Liberal MLA Kent Hehr proposed Motion 503 which mandated that school boards could not support for any students who wanted to start a GSA in their school. Despite support from the Alberta NDP and some PC and Wildrose MLAs, it did not pass. This issue was then brought up again by Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman with Bill 202. This bill caused serious strife within the Wildrose and PC caucuses. In fact, it was the GSA issue which was referred to by Danielle Smith as she announced her defection from the Wildrose caucus. Bill 202 was deemed redundant by the PC government as they replaced it with government Bill 10. This iteration of the legislation did not mandate GSA support but required that any student who was denied GSA access could go to court to argue for it. This was not a popular compromise and ultimately the Prentice government backtracked and passed legislation that ensured that school boards could not stop GSA access if students wanted it.
Market Modifiers: a means for Alberta post secondary institutions to increase tuition for a program based on demand, graduation employment prospects, and comparisons to other programs at other post-secondary institutions. Alberta caps tuition increases to a specific percentage and market modifiers allow the universities to go above and beyond that amount. This market modifier concept was introduced in 2010 and, at the time, it was to considered to be a one time occurrence. However, in 2014, market modifiers were again approved.
Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI): provincial funding for municipalities for capital infrastructure projects such as roads. MSI is a $11.1 billion dollar initiative and there was an announcement of a boost of $400 million dollars to the fund as part of the 2014-15 budget forecast in early March 2015 but the subsequent 2015-26 budget cut that amount by $373.9 million.
Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP): A program that provided wage subsidies to employers in government, small businesses and non-profit when they hired Alberta students during the summer. This program was called a “crutch” by Premier Alison Redford and was eliminated in 2013. The Alberta NDP is calling on the government to reinstate the program.