Alberta extends and expands consumer relief as provincial inflation rate climbs to 7.1%

Alberta will extend its fuel tax relief program until September and provide monthly electricity rebates of $50 this summer — after news that inflation in the province climbed to 7.1 per cent in May.

The United Conservative government said Wednesday it would continue to hit pause on the collection of its 13¢ per litre provincial fuel tax, extending a program that went into effect on April 1.

Shortly after making that announcement, it said it would also provide homes, farms and small businesses with $50 monthly credits for their electricity bills in July, August and September.

“We are providing targeted support to help hard-working Albertans deal with the rising cost of living,” Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity, said in a statement.

“These rebates, combined with the fuel tax exemption and upcoming natural gas rebate, will help the large majority of Alberta households pay their bills while we make the long-term changes needed to make energy more affordable in the years ahead.”

With the fuel tax relief, the government said it will evaluate the program quarterly and reinstate it in stages only if the average price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil fell below $90 US per barrel.

For the four-week period ending June 15, WTI averaged $115.88 per barrel, according to the province.

The government will re-evaluate the program in September.

With respect to the electricity rebates, the province said eligible Albertans will receive an automatic $50 rebate on their bills. It is being applied directly to eligible utility bills, requiring no application to start receiving the rebate in July.

The $50 rebates will apply to the entire bill, the government said, not just the energy portion.

Nally also confirmed that the province is developing a natural gas rebate program for the fall.

The province announced its plans Wednesday as Statistics Canada data showed that inflation in Alberta reached 7.1 per cent in May, up from 6.3 per cent in April, driven in large part by rising transportation costs. 

“In Alberta, inflation accelerated to 7.1%, due to a rise in gasoline prices,” wrote Charles St-Arnaud, chief economist with Alberta Central, the central banking facility for the province’s credit unions, in an analysis Wednesday.

“As it is the case nationally, most of the inflation is due to higher energy costs (gasoline, electricity and natural gas), home ownership cost, motor vehicles and food prices.

“We note that both headline and core inflation for the province remains slightly lower than in the rest of the country and it has been the case since October 2020.”

Canada’s inflation rate for the same month reached 7.7 per cent — its highest point since 1983. Compared to other provinces, Alberta’s rate was near the lowest, second only to Saskatchewan’s seven per cent.

More to come

View original article here Source