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'Whole range of options': Province eyes energy cost relief for Albertans


Albertans being hit hard by increasing energy costs will soon see some relief and it could come as early as next week, Premier Jason Kenney said Friday.

"We want to make sure that as the Alberta Treasury receives additional royalties from these higher prices, that some of that is passed on to consumers," he said.

Kenney said he has instructed finance minister Travis Toews and energy minister Sonya Savage to bring forward a plan "quickly" that will help Albertans having trouble "paying the bills" in the face of rapid inflation and rising energy costs like gas and home heating.

"We're looking at a whole range of options, one could be a cut in the gas excise tax," said Kenney, adding a decision will be make "early next week."

"The reality is we can't undo the global forces pushing up energy and other costs, it's something being borne by people in Canada and around the world."

Kenney also pleaded with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hold off on a carbon tax increase scheduled for April 1.

The opposition NDP says Albertans should be given financial support to offset the spike in energy prices, but Calgary-Mountain View MLA Kathleen Ganley says she doesn't trust the UCP to do it properly.

"I think it a good idea to help with costs spiralling out of control," she says "I think the major concern is we've seen this show before from the UCP; the premier promised the help with natural gas prices and then introduced a fake program."

That program introduced in last week's budget, offered money back to consumers if their natural gas rate hit $6.50/gigajoule - but that threshold is much higher than current rates.

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt says dropping the price at the pump is an easy way to appease Albertans.

"I see this as a win-win-win for Kenny," he says," win with consumers, win because he's got the money to do so, and win because he can still criticize Trudeau, which he loves to do."

Recent polling by Angus Reid suggested more than half of Canadians are having trouble keeping up with cost of living increases and seven in 10 are stressed about money as inflation rates continue to grow.

In January 2022, Canada’s annual inflation rate reached 5.1 per cent, which outpaced wage increases of 2.4 per cent over the same period. According to Statistics Canada, this was the first time the annual inflation rate exceeded five per cent in more than 30 years. Top Stories

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