As more Albertans struggle with finances, province says best cure is a better job

As more and more reports show Albertans are struggling financially, the UCP government says the best cure for inflation is a better job with a higher wage.

In a statement to CityNews, Finance Minister Travis Toews says the province has taken steps to address affordability and he blames the federal government over high inflation.

“Alberta has taken steps to address affordability by cutting the gas tax, saving Albertans 13 cents per litre of fuel, providing $150 in rebates for electricity, and establishing a consumer protection program for natural gas prices.

But provincial government’s [sic] alone cannot address the root cause – inflation – without the federal government taking action on their spending habits,” he said.

“There is no better cure for inflation than a better job with a higher wage,” Toews added, pointing to the $600 million Alberta at Work initiative to help Albertans with education, training, and on-the-job experience.

Related Article: ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous’: Albertans reach deeper into pockets, find alternate solutions as gas prices rise

Since the start of the pandemic, the price of everything has gone up by seven per cent, while average wages in Alberta have only increased by three per cent.

According to accounting firm MNP’s Consumer Debt Index, half of Albertans are just $200 a month away from not being able to meet all their financial obligations.

“There’s no doubt that times are tough right now for Albertans, and so what that looks like is people being really concerned about being able to make ends meet, to pay their bills, to pay rent or their mortgage, and also to pay down their consumer debt,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta.

“That economic anxiety is largely invisible. There’s a lot of consumer debt in the province and a lot of people and families are making choices to maintain or try to maintain that quality of life and standard of living by going deeper and deeper into debt.”

Combining rising fuel costs, sky-high utility prices, auto insurance rates being unaffordable for some, and record-high inflation rates, Lafortune says people are struggling.

“Albertans are making tough choices between saving for their retirement or paying for groceries or paying their rent or choosing to think about whether or not their children are going into extracurriculars like soccer, hockey, or dance next year.”

Related Article: Skyrocketing utility bills in Alberta have homeowners concerned

Toews says Alberta’s wages are the highest among all provinces.

“It should also be noted that Albertans continue to have substantial advantages over those living in other provinces, including lower overall taxes (almost 40% of filers pay zero provincial income tax), some of the lowest housing prices, and the lowest food and transportation costs in the country.”


Meantime, the New Democrats blame the province for making financial situations even more difficult for Albertans and not providing enough relief.

They say an NDP government would put more money back into the pockets of Albertans but did not elaborate on how.
“Many Albertans were already on the verge of not making ends meet.

Now they’re effectively taking a pay cut and under the UCP Alberta is falling behind other provinces,” NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray said in a press release.

“It seems like the only ones benefiting under the UCP are large, already profitable companies.”

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