$ announced during Smith's Cremona campaign stop

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012 06:00 am | Jennifer Isaac
Noel West/Mountain View Gazette
Noel West/Mountain View Gazette
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith presents her party's third pledge, the Alberta Energy Dividend to members of the media and a group of supporters just outside of Cremona last Monday.
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Wild Rose leader Danielle Smith made a campaign stop west of Cremona on April 2 to announce her party’s third pledge, the Alberta Energy Dividend.

“We all own the resources,” Smith said, addressing a crowd of ranchers and local supporters, while standing in a field near a pump jack. “We all deserve to have a share in that wealth. The Alberta Energy Dividend will give Albertans a direct share in our energy success and will deliver cash payments directly to all Albertans.”

Smith then outlined how the plan would work. “First we will enact the Wild Rose balanced budget and savings act and put an end to deficits,” she said. “And then after that, it would allow us to put 50 per cent of all budget surpluses into the Heritage Fund.”

The next 20 per cent would go into the Alberta Energy Dividend Fund.

“Whenever this fund exceeds $750 million, we will then distribute it equally to Albertans,” she said.

The fund is projected to reach $1 billion by the 2014/15 budget year, Smith noted. “That means a tax-free dividend totalling more than $300 will be paid to every Albertan in 2015,” she said. “That’s $1200 for a family of four. More money in your pocket. By giving Albertans a direct share of our energy wealth, the dividend will help Albertans meet the rising cost of living that is often the consequence of a booming economy.”

The Dividend would be particularly helpful to seniors, young families and anybody else on a fixed or low income, she said.

“In fact, it will help low income families the most,” Smith added. “It will also force government to live within its means by ensuring that energy surpluses go to Albertans first instead of into political pet projects. We have seen what happens when governments come into possession of massive resource wealth without a plan to manage it.

“The Alberta Energy Dividend makes sure that when times are good, it’s Albertans who will benefit directly.”

Smith explained that the key difference between the Alberta Energy Dividend and similar programs from the past are the prescribed parameters around it.

“Albertans will know exactly when the dividends will come and they’ll know exactly how much they will be,” she said. “Instead of cutting taxes and then scrambling for revenues when the economy turns, the Alberta Energy Dividend will be paid only out of surpluses. That means that the budget will already have been balanced with important government services like health care and education fully funded before Albertans receive their dividend.”

In other election news, Raj Sherman of the Alberta Liberal Party unfolded his party’s health care plan, including calling for a doubling of investment in home care to $808 million a year, the training of more medical professionals, an increased emphasis on wellness and prevention and the re-establishment of locally elected health boards.

Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservatives recently announced that they would expand access to locally available medical training, with more student spaces and pilot projects supporting the education of more doctors and rural physicians. They would also expand and make permanent the Rural Integrated Community Clerkship Program.

On April 4, Brian Mason of the New Democrat Party stated that they would choose to invest in public services needed to address the most critical problems in the seniors’ care system. The NDPs are proposing to tackle wait times in emergency rooms. Also, they would build 1500 long-term care beds, invest $100 million more in home care and cap seniors’ drug costs at $25 per month.

The EverGreen Party of Alberta has endorsed Elizabeth Johannson in the coming Senator-in-Waiting elections.

“Green parties have an essential role to play in elections by raising issues and concerns that otherwise might pass unnoticed,” said Johannson. “We hope to draw on the large number of Albertans who know that a strong economy and a healthy environment must go hand in hand.”


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