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Province tables legislation, moving forward with Budget 2024

The governing United Conservative Party tabled Bill 10
Finance Minister Nate Horner has introduced Bill 10 into the legislature, beginning the implementation of Budget 2024. Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner arrives to speak to the media at a news conference in Calgary, Thursday, June 29, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The Government of Alberta has introduced Bill 10 into the legislature, a multi-piece framework to begin implementing the 2024 provincial budget.

Also known as the Financial Statutes Amendment Act, the new legislation seeks to attract talent to the province to fill labour shortages, enhance the film and television industry through an expanded tax credit, make changes to government financial reporting, raise the tobacco tax and other changes required to begin implementing Budget 2024.

“Budget 2024 is built for today and tomorrow,” said Drumheller-Stettler MLA, and Finance Minister, Nate Horner, in a media release announcing the legislation.

“The legislation would allow us to make needed progress and position the province for even more economic success and financial stability for generations to come.”

In an effort to attract skilled labour to the province, Budget 2024 is establishing the Alberta is Calling Attraction Bonus, a $10 million program that will support up to 2,000 workers in eligible skilled trades who move to the province and file Alberta taxes in 2024.

Applicants to the program will be considered on a “first-come, first-served basis” and those eligible can get a one-time $5,000 tax credit.

When asked why the $5,000, Jobs Minister Matt Jones noted that the amount is roughly what it costs for someone to move to the province.

Jones was questioned why the bonus was structured so differently from the program that the United Conservative Party Campaigned on. It was noted that during the campaign the bonus was to include child care and health care workers, which the new program doesn’t, and would have had a cash incentive of $1,200 instead of $5,000, which would have benefited more people.

According to Jones, the campaign promise was just that and the new bonus was “improved,” having been developed in conjunction with four different government departments. Jones also noted that the bonus was merely phase one; if it proved effective it would be rolled out to other areas that were facing worker shortages.

When it comes to the film and television industry, new rules will widen the application window for film projects as well as expand project eligibility.

Currently, projects that have already begun principal photography are not eligible for tax credits; the new rules will expand the window to 120 days from the start of the project. Additionally, the new rules will add reality and game shows to the eligible filming projects that can apply for the Film and Television Tax Credit.

Proposed rule changes to government reporting would change the information the province needs to provide during the mid-year update and provide more exemptions for in-year expense rules.

If adopted, the new rules will allow the province to report on just the current fiscal year during its mid-year updates instead of the currently required three-year fiscal plan. As well, the amendment would exempt the Alberta Fund and Alberta Carbon Capture Incentive Program from in-year expense rules, giving the government “flexibility” while “still complying with the fiscal framework.”

According to Horner, the reason for the change to the mid-year reporting comes down to staff time and costs. He noted that due to the requirement of doing the three-year fiscal plan as part of the mid-year update, his team was effectively doing two full budgets in three months.

“Maintaining clarity is important,” said Horner.

“This streamlines reporting.”

When asked why the reporting rules were being changed after being in place for just over a year, Horner noted that the government had learned during that year and was finding ways to improve the process while still remaining accountable.

Other changes will have land titles and mortgage registrations move to $5 per $5,000 of property value, up from the current $2 per $5,000 for land transfers and $1.50 per $5,000 for mortgages.

The change is to “help support the efficient, modernized operation of the Land Titles Office” while also keeping the costs associated among the lowest in Canada’s six largest provinces.

To promote health in the province and bring the taxes in line with other provincial jurisdictions, the tobacco tax rate on cigarettes is being retroactively increased to 30 cents per cigarette, up from 27.5. Smokeless tobacco is also increasing to 35 cents per gram, up from 27.5 cents. The new tax rates are effective retroactive to March 1.

The increase is part of the province’s tobacco and vaping reduction strategy which is using taxes to discourage use.

“Our hope is to see that revenue drop as more people quit,” said Horner during a press conference.

A final change being made under Bill 10 is to the Agri-processing Investment Tax Credit.

The amendment will streamline the process for registered partnerships that invest at least $10 million into building or expanding an existing agri-processing facility in the province. Currently, there is no avenue for investor groups partnering in a facility to apply for the tax credit.

“The program would signal to investors that Alberta is a friendly, competitive place to do business and create new jobs in food and ag processing,” notes a release on the proposed change.

Kevin Sabo

About the Author: Kevin Sabo

I’m Kevin Sabo. I’ve been a resident of the Castor area for the last 12 years and counting, first coming out here in my previous career as an EMT.
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