Albertans are weighing Danielle Smith’s Inflation Relief Act a day after the new premier announced her specific measures during a televised campaign-like address.
The act, which will take effect in January, will give $600 for six months to families earning less than $180,000 for each child under 18.
Senior citizens will also get the benefit.
In addition, Smith says his government will index income supports to inflation, offer $200 in rebates on consumers’ electricity bills during the winter months and suspend all provincial fuel tax for at least the next half year.
The $2.4 billion plan has at least one economist optimistic.
Trevor Tombe says the package will help families, who typically spend more on gas and food, fight debt and rising bills.
But he doesn’t think it will fight inflation.
“These measures are really just to cushion family budgets,” he told CTV News.
“It’s not necessarily something that boosts or depresses economic activity in general.”
The University of Calgary professor believes the proceeds will go a long way toward supporting some Albertans in need during the winter.
His key word: “some”.
“There are some missed opportunities here to provide better targeted support to lower-income Albertans in general,” Tombe said, noting the lack of direct payments for adults without children.
LONG TERM ELECTORAL STRATEGY
University of Lethbridge political scientist Trevor Harrison says the missing piece is easy to explain.
“You have to think that this is aimed at groups that expect them to return to the fold,” he said.
“The idea here is that (seniors and parents) are the people most likely to vote.”
The measures will last for six months. That’s when Albertans head to the polls.
“So I suspect a lot of people will be wondering how much of this is electoralism and whether (the payments) are going to go away again,” Harrison said.
“It was really the first salvo in what I think is going to be a very bitter election campaign.”
FAKE OF INFLATION
During his announcement on Tuesday, Smith attributed high inflation mainly to the federal government and its high spending.
Tombe says this is false.
“Most of the inflation we’re seeing and most of the acceleration in inflation over the past year is due to external supply-side factors, not the Bank of Canada or federal spending,” he said.
Smith’s announcement comes ahead of Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews’ mid-year fiscal update and economic statement on Thursday.
(With files from The Canadian Press)