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Will Alberta be handing out 'Ralph bucks' again?

The Alberta government says the province has enjoyed larger resource revenues earlier this year, but it isn't saying anything about how or even if that could translate into rebates.

On Monday afternoon, the Saskatchewan government announced it would be cutting $500 cheques for every resident 18 years and older sometime in the fall.

In a video posted on social media, Premier Scott Moe said the reason for the money was because of higher resource revenues that were reported during the first quarter of this year.

"You own the resources, and you should benefit when those resource prices are high," he said in the video.

In response to the news, the Alberta government told CTV News that it too enjoyed higher resource revenues this year.

However, the premier's office didn't want to spill the beans over any sort of rebate that Albertans could put in their pockets.

"Like Saskatchewan, Alberta will be presenting our first quarter fiscal update this month, that will reflect increased resources revenues due to increased prices over the last several months," said Premier Jason Kenney's press secretary Justin Brattinga in an email.

"We look forward to updating Albertans on how our shared resource wealth will benefit families across the province."


While it has been more than 15 years since the provincial government handed out rebates to Albertans based on resource revenues, the Alberta government says it has been doing a lot to help residents manage with high costs.

Two of those rebates are directly connected to energy costs – but only if certain things happen.

A rebate for natural gas is expected to come into force if rates are pushed up over $6.50 per gigajoule, but only after Oct. 1.

An electricity rebate is also on the books, but Kenney said earlier this year that will rely on conditions remaining favourable in Alberta.

"If the economy is strong, and our fiscal situation continues to improve, we are open to providing additional consumer relief," he told reporters in May.

One of the other methods the government has used to help Albertans with costs has been the pause on the provincial gas tax, which immediately dropped the price of fuel by more than 13 cents.

But the tax will return once the price of West Texas Intermediate remains about US $90 per barrel.

Officials say the government opted not to go ahead with a one-time payment for high gas prices, as some other provinces did, because dropping the tax would save residents more money.

It adds the current strategy is saving Albertans a lot of money.

"Alberta’s government has led Canada in providing relief from inflation and making life more affordable. From $300 in electricity rebates direct to consumers, to eliminating the provincial gas tax, to forthcoming natural gas rebates this winter, Albertans will keep more than $2 billion in their pockets this year and into next," Brattinga said.

The Alberta government is expected to provide its first quarter update at the end of August.


Keith Brownsey, a political science professor at Mount Royal University, doesn’t believe Alberta or any government should offer rebates in the form of cheques right now.

“It sounds very similar to Ralph bucks in 2005, and Ralph bucks in 2005 was very good politics but absolutely awful policy. I mean, what is Saskatchewan thinking? Do they think this oil boom will continue? That these revenues will flow in? I just don’t know what they’re doing,” he said.

Brownsey says instead of sending home cheques, governments should put excess funds into public services or away for a rainy day.

“I just shake my head and look at places like Alaska, New Mexico, Norway with a trillion-dollar sovereignty health fund. Why not put the money into the Alberta heritage saving trust fund and use it to support heath care, education and all those things we value as a collective?” he said.

“This is just bad policy, I would say stupid but ... OK, I’ll say it. It’s stupid policy.”

(With files from CTV Regina) Top Stories

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