she’s not done yet.
When Prime Minister Daniel Smith unveiled a $2.4 billion inflation plan on Tuesday, he said there was still much work to be done.
But Smith’s sentiment was one sentence in so many that were televised.
The morning after the prime minister takes the subway, Matt Jones, Smith’s affordable point man, is sitting with your scribe at the Calgary Food Bank.
Jones is very clear.
“There will be more,” he says.
Jones calls Smith’s announcement “the first package.”
“I think what you’ll see are separate announcements outside of this package.”
Smith was applauded for her latest move.
But while the Premier will be wildly enthusiastic by some because those earning less than $180,000 a year and with children win the check, like singles and couples without children, who earn much less and are less likely to inflate. Not so with people struggling to repel attacks.
For many people, if you have kids and still get up close to $180,000 a year, that’s a lot of bread.
In fact, 4 out of 5 households in Alberta receive checks.
I think the high threshold to get the check could be seen as a play to keep voters in the Calgary suburbs, whom Smith has to win in May, offended by being left behind. Some people are reasonable.
Besides, many of the people who complain and think they’re on the edge of the stick are likely voting for the NDP.
Calculations are similar.
Jones, the man riding the herd in Team Smith’s inflation file, counters.
He said the $180,000 cutoff is a “legitimate number.” This is the same number that the state uses for child care subsidies.
He says people can save money through power rebates, not paying state fuel taxes on the pump for six months, and income tax changes.
Jones added that while the majority of children and seniors also earn $600 in six months, it wasn’t a top priority during the pandemic.
“They will certainly move forward.
“If you wonder where the heart is. That’s what I really believe.”
Mr. Jones also wants to put together a blueprint for controlling inflation, both now and in the future.
His timeline for some of this stuff is as soon as he can. He says he is excited to work on the new plan.
He says Smith is serious about doing more.
Rising insurance premiums are “a concern unique to Alberta,” Jones said.
I am not joking!
Note to Smith: You are not the CEO of a large insurance company. And we are imprisoned. If you want to own a car, you must have insurance.
Alas, Smith’s budget chief, Travis Touse, doesn’t like to cap Alberta’s insurance premiums.
Well, he’s not prime minister either.
Jones, who endorsed Toews in the UCP leadership race, said he would “consider all options to support affordability.”
“It’s as art as it can be,” says the man, who worked as an investment banker before diving into politics, and now represents horseback riding in the southeastern Calgary suburbs.
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Jones says he’s looking at post-secondary education and housing costs. This includes skyrocketing rents where monthly increases can exceed annual increases in property taxes.
Jones says what he’s doing isn’t about the May election, but all political loyalty aside, money can buy your love.
The Affordability Minister says Alberta cannot wait until after the election to get rid of inflation.
“I don’t get these questions from regular Albertans,” says Jones.
“They can see the problem. I feel their pain. I have four children.”
Besides, state governments have money.
On Thursday, they’ll tell us how much extra dollars to expect in state coffers.
My cracked calculator calculates it has to be about $12 billion.
Why didn’t you do Ralph Bucks where everyone gets a check?
“You can’t pay everyone’s bills,” says Jones.
Respected economist Trevor Tombe would have taken a different route.
“I would probably opt for a simple, one-time lump sum cash transfer to all Albertans. Clean, easy, and easy to communicate.”
And there is still dough to help even the most vulnerable, such as those with severe disabilities.
Mike Pasma leads the Calgary Food Bank.
The state just announced additional funding for food banks.
What does Pasma want to say to set fire to the feet of the Smith administration? Let them look at the ball now and in the future so this isn’t just seen as an exercise to buy votes ?
“You can’t walk away,” he says, as if Smith were with us at the food bank.
“I believe they have the moral authority to help voters because that’s why they got into politics. They didn’t do it for fame or glory or power. They did it to help people.
“Then help the people.”
Bell: Team Daniel Smith and more anti-inflation goods!
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