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Our hard working MLA Jason Copping, who represents Calgary-Varsity shared this, so want to pass it on to other Ward 4 residents. There is also a property tax update after this. – Sean


From MLA Copping:

This past week has been one of the most challenging in the past several months. To those who have lost someone or has seen someone suffer from this virus, my sympathies go out to you and your family.  To our health care workers on the front-lines daily, please know that we stand behind you and commend you for the work you continue to do.

As we saw a spike in COVID-19 cases across the province the Alberta government had some tough decisions to make. This week, on the advice of Dr. Hinshaw, Premier Kenney once again declared a public state of health emergency announcing new restrictions and measures to protect Albertans. 

It is never easy implementing measures that tell Albertans how to live, but we are in a critical time.  To protect lives and livelihoods and to protect our overall health care system our government felt it necessary to introduce further measures.  Based on the best data we have, the new measures will hopefully see our case numbers decline while protecting our economy. To accomplish this, we all need to work together and heed the new measures.

We must not forget that there are many who live alone, don’t have family nearby or who are having difficulty in dealing with the stresses of this virus. 

To this, I would like to acknowledge Addictions Awareness Week. Our government is working hard to help those struggling with addictions.  We have removed financial barriers for Albertans needing to enroll in residential addiction treatment and we are creating a new Alberta model, providing recovery-oriented addiction and mental health that focuses on the whole person including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.  For addiction support, information and referral to services please call the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322.  

As always, if you have questions or would like to share your feedback please reach out to my office at calgary.varsity@assembly.ab.ca. 

COVID-19 UPDATE

COVID-19 restrictions 

I can’t stress enough how critical things are currently with the rising number of hospitalization and ICU admissions from COVID-19 cases.  The growth rate is alarming and it has meant that our government has had to implement new measures and restrictions to protect the vulnerable and to ensure our health system does not collapse. 

I know that there are some of you who may feel government does not have the right to tell you who you can have in your home or how to run your business, while others are may feel we need to go into a complete full lockdown.  Our government worked hard using the data provided to strike the right balance on these measures. 

With hospitalization rates increasing it has meant that urgent surgeries may need to be cancelled, while most other non-urgent surgeries have already been cancelled.  Keeping Albertans safe and healthy has to be top priority.  We also recognize that completely shutting down businesses is also not healthy.  Livelihoods depend on these businesses remaining open, although with newer strict restrictions. 

This is not a choice of our health versus our economy, it is about protecting both lives and livelihoods.



Point of care rapid testing

Alberta will soon begin piloting point-of-care rapid testing for COVID-19, providing faster, more convenient testing for the disease.

Over the last two months, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) have been working to evaluate the effectiveness of the Abbott IDNow and PanBio COVID-19 testing kits, which have been approved by Health Canada and provided to provinces and territories by the federal government.

More than 100,000 tests are available for distribution to targeted sites to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans. The PanBio rapid antigen tests will be used at one assessment centre in Calgary.

 

 

Council decision on 2021 Mid-Cycle Adjustments package

Council concluded its deliberations and approved the 2021 Mid-Cycle Adjustments to One Calgary Service Plans and Budgets. 

Council considered administrations recommendations for over $90 million in savings to achieve an overall tax rate decrease for 2021 including the Solutions for Achieving Value and Excellence (SAVE) program budget adjustments.  Following several days of thoughtful consideration and deliberation, here is a high-level summary of Council’s decisions:

  • An overall municipal tax rate decrease of 1.77% for 2021.
  • Some of the savings will replace the one-time rebate for 2021 previously directed by Council with permanent reductions.
  • The result will be an overall decrease of 0.57% for non-residential and 0.54% for residential taxpayers. It is important to remember that specific tax impacts for 2021 will vary depending on the property type and changes in assessment value.
  • In addition, to recognize Calgarians facing hard times, two one-time relief programs have been approved:
    • A residential rebate of up to $6 million, so the typical single residential property can expect to pay the same in net municipal property taxes as in 2020, and
    • Approval for the use of $21 million in 2021 for a Phased Tax Program (PTP) that would cap the property tax increase for non-residential property owners at 10%. 
  • More than 2,500 ideas, including 1,600 submitted by City employees, led to the inclusion of 22 SAVE business cases in the MCA package, and the resulting adjustments were unanimously approved by Council.
  • Approval of the Community Safety Investment Framework Terms of Reference that will include participation from The City, Calgary Police Service and community members, including $8 million in one-time funding to allow for the immediate activation of initiatives.
  • Council’s principle of taking a least-harm approach to citizen-facing services was maintained, while also approving some important investments such as to improve social well-being in Calgary and our commitment to anti-racism.

The tax burden will be once again shifted, and for some businesses, it will be hard to keep going. While residential property taxes are going down, but for strip malls it was projected to be 2.64%; non-residential 5.15%; industrial warehouse 7.42%; multi-residential 12.64%; neighborhood retail 17.08%; and large industrial warehouses 24.98%. These are huge increases.

I voted against the tax increase, and always have since being elected. The current system for which we measure property tax rates, and collect them and give the province their share is not working. The hollowing out of the downtown core has made us continual shift the burden to other sectors, mainly small businesses who faced large increases every year that put many out of business. This positive feedback loop means that it will keep getting worse. I will be conveying this problem to our Edmonton colleagues. The chickens came home to roost a while ago, and change is needed.

Sean Chu

Sean Chu

Sean Chu arrived in Calgary from Taiwan in 1985 speaking not a word of English, and within 7 years he was a sworn officer with the Calgary Police Service. From that point on Sean worked with the Calgary Police Service as on Officer for 21 years in a number of roles until 2013.

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