June 14th, 2024

Chamber welcomes Finance Minister for budget speech

By Lethbridge Herald on March 2, 2023.

Finance Minister Travis Toews speaks during a Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce event Thursday at the Sandman Signature Lethbridge Lodge. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Cal Braid – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Finance Minister Travis Toews spoke to a Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday after releasing the province’s 2023 budget this week. His brief visit to Lethbridge gave the Chamber’s CEO, Cyndi Bester, an opportunity to publicly address the favourable developments in the budget.

“I always enjoy the speeches you give,” she said. “There’s hope in those addresses, and that’s what is always encouraging. I was particularly thrilled to see you reference the incredible work that Southland Trailer Corp. is doing here in Lethbridge, doubling its production and creating 250 new jobs. This is a significant boost to our local economy, and a clear indication of favourable conditions that the government is creating for investment, attraction, and wealth creation.

“I appreciate the fact that the government recognizes that it does not create wealth, but it creates conditions favourable to (it). This understanding has enabled Alberta to become the best place to do business. Not only for our local economic drivers, but also those who want to make Alberta their home.”

Bester thanked the minister’s efforts to ensure that Albertans benefit from the lowest taxes in Canada, as well as the province’s commitment to create 10,000 additional post-secondary learning spaces for high demand occupations and professions.

She welcomed the news of the healthcare workforce strategy, which will provide $180 million to support multiple initiatives and ideally draw international skilled workers to Alberta, and acknowledged the $2 billion over three years to fund the Alberta healthcare action plan. The suspension of fuel tax program, electricity rebates, and affordability payments are also essential.

“We need our employees to succeed in their personal lives while helping them succeed in their work lives,” she said.

Bester expressed appreciation for the $11.2 million over three years to expand the renal dialysis program at the Chinook Regional Hospital, and acknowledged the $94.3 million over three years the province has budgeted for Hwy. 3 twinning between Taber and Burdett.

After Bester’s opening speech, Toews spoke for almost an hour in greater depth about how the new budget aims to resolve the province’s shortcomings.

From public safety, healthcare, education, inflation, and fuel costs to re-indexing taxes and social services, he promoted the new budget’s strength in addressing the most basic concerns of Albertans. He described his vision for economic growth and diversification, as well as his commitment to fiscal responsibility for managing debt, surplus, government spending, and savings.

Minister of Infrastructure Nathan Neudorf closed the meeting by commending Toews on his integrity and compassion for all Albertans.

“Like he said, we’d love to say yes to a lot of projects, but there are tensions in all of them. The more you spend, the less you save, the less you pay down debt. For the effort he goes through, whether he has to say yes, no, or not yet, (he puts) Alberta in a tremendous position. I’m very proud that this budget really does hold a lot of great things for Lethbridge.”

Neudorf praised the investments made in the school divisions and post-secondary institutions, but implied AHS is lagging in its South Zone investments. He said he’s still calling for a catheterization lab that he’s “been going to bat for” for three years, but AHS has not yet prioritized.

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Lowest taxes in Canada? Lol until you hit $100,000+ in income, BC has a much lower tax rate than Alberta.

Southern Albertan

Unless, rates have changed, the rate for B.C. for 2021 in the tax bracket $96,866-$117,623 was 12.29%. The rate for Alberta from $0-$131,220 was 10%. I’m not sure touting lowest taxes in Canada is wise. Because many in Alberta still have very high personal/corporate incomes, thus, our equalization payments are higher because other folks across Canada make much less. Equalization is based on personal income/Revenue Canada. It is well known (and was well known by the former Premier Kenney who was part and parcel of the equalization formula developed during the Harper years) that if ‘Alberta’ wishes to pay less, in equalization, we need to raise our tax rates. After all, it would be a way to keep the ‘money’ here.
Other provincial rates can be seen here:

Last edited 1 year ago by Southern Albertan