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Alberta provincial election: supporting Calgarians

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2019 provincial election: supporting Calgarians through recovery

​​We want to continue making life better—every day. The City wants to work with The Province to find ways that make life more affordable for you.

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Supporting Calgarians through recovery

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<div class="ExternalClass7E79BAE9E6BC45B499A1EA6EDD2F096F">Keeping all Calgarians moving</div>

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http://www.calgary.ca/citycouncil/YYCmatters/Pages/AB2019/pillar3.aspx#FundLowIncomeTransitPassProgram, https://spprd-authoring.calgary.ca:47443/citycouncil/YYCmatters/Pages/pillar3.aspx#FundLowIncomeTransitPassProgram

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Fund low income transit pass

Keeping all Calgarians moving
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Fund affordable housing

A home for everyone

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Alberta-based mortgage rules

Strong home sales, strong Calgary
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Producers pay recycling fees

Save money, protect the environment

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Fund low income transit pass program

Keeping all Calgarians moving

We want to continue making life better—every day. The City wants to work with The Province to find ways that make life more affordable for you.

  • 60,000 Calgarians use the program
  • 425,000 passes sold
  • To keep the program, we need a long-term funding commitment from The Province

Question: Funding the Low Income Transit Pass

Provincial grant funding has enabled Calgary to offer fares better aligned with low-income Calgarians’ ability to pay through the Low Income Transit Pass (also known as the sliding scale pass). Since its implementation in 2017, the program has more than doubled in size and now serves over 60,000 Calgarians. Provincial funds are required to continue to offer the fare structure which ensures all Calgarians have access to the basic mobility necessary to help them access opportunities. Does your party commit to the extension of the provincial grant funds necessary to continue current approach to the Low Income Transit Pass?

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Yes. The Alberta Liberals are committed to maintaining funding for the Low Income Transit Pass and view it as an important poverty reduction measure.

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We are very proud to have partnered with the City of Calgary to create the low-income transit pass pilot, and we fully support the goal of making sure every Calgarian has access to public transit so that they can get to work and school and participate fully in their communities.

We have committed to $4.5 million per year for three years to support the program. We are aware that 2019 is the last year of the pilot, and that demand has exceeded expectations, placing further pressure on the City of Calgary.

We look forward to examining the detailed findings of this pilot project and we remain committed in principle to a low-income transit pass program. While we cannot commit at this time to permanently continuing funding for the program, we can assure you that we do not wish to see low income Calgarians lose access to this valuable program. To that end we are committed to working with the City of Calgary on how to make the program viable and how to meet this evident demand over the long term.

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The Alberta Party recognizes the positive impacts this program has had on the lives of Albertans and commits to continuing the current program.

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In response to our survey the Green Party submitted the following statement, presented here in full.

The Green Party of Alberta has generally not adopted policy to the level of fine detail that your survey requests. In general, the Green Party supports law and public finance reform that would better recognize the key role that city governments play in meeting the needs of Albertans.

Some specifics: The Party is supportive of developing and expanding public transit systems wherever feasible in the province. Provincial funding would come from the retained portion of the carbon tax.

The Green Party supports the development of a long-term capital plan for additions to, and maintenance of, that portion of the social housing stock that is owned by the province and municipalities.

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We would be happy to give this grant request more consideration, particularly in light of other streams of funding the City of Calgary receives.

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Increase funding for affordable housing

A home for everyone

Affordable housing is a necessity for many Calgarians. With provincial support, we can increase the number of affordable homes.

  • 1 in 5 Calgarians need affordable housing
  • 15,000+ non-market homes needed—to meet Canadian average for urban centres
  • Our sector is ready to build, with 5,500 units in the community pipeline

Question : Addressing the shortage of affordable housing

1 in 5 households in Calgary are in need of affordable housing, yet affordable housing makes up only 3.6% of Calgary’s housing stock. An additional 15,000 non-market units are needed for Calgary to reach the national average for non-market housing supply in urban centers of 6%. Getting to the national average requires that we maintain existing units and build new units. Does your party commit to the maintenance funding required to keep existing doors open? Will you provide capital funding for new stock? How much? How many units? How will you leverage Calgary’s share of the federal investments committed in the $40 billion National Housing Strategy?

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The Alberta Liberals believe that maintenance of existing affordable housing stock is as important, if not more important, than building new affordable housing. It stands to reason that, as with other public infrastructure, we should be trying to make the most efficient use of affordable housing that already exists. Maintenance of existing affordable housing, unless it is no longer safe or repairs will be prohibitively expensive, will almost always be more cost-effective.

That said, we also recognize that Calgary’s shortage of affordable housing is now at a crisis level. To help address this, the Alberta Liberals are promising to double the $1.2 billion that the province has currently committed for new affordable housing over five years. We are also promising to double the additional $339 million that the province just recently announced on March 15, 2019 as part of a 10-year agreement with the federal government aimed at renewing and expanding affordable housing stock. Lastly, we are promising to commit an additional $50 million towards maintenance of existing affordable housing.

In terms of new units, we estimate that our affordable housing strategy will enable the construction of upwards of 8,500 affordable housing units province-wide.

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Increasing Alberta’s supply of affordable housing is a priority for the Alberta NDP. We are on track to construct 4,700 new units under our Affordable Housing Strategy. If re-elected we commit to build an additional 4,000 new affordable housing units to make sure low income Albertans have access to safe, quality housing. At this time we cannot specify how many of those units will be built in Calgary, but we are happy to work with the municipalities to determine a fair distribution of units across the province.

In addition to building new units, there is no question that increased investment is needed to upgrade and repair existing housing stock. This is an issue that is decades in the making. That’s why since May 2015 we have approved over $10 million to the Calgary Housing Company (CHC) for major capital developments, in addition to a $4.5 million infusion as part of the Capital Maintenance and Renewal Program to support renovations provided in December 2017. As you know, Budget 2018 also provided an additional $12 million in maintenance and renewal funding for Housing Management Bodies across the province. We have also dedicated almost $250 million to housing maintenance and renewal under our 5-year Capital Plan.

We are committed to working with all levels of government to address the housing needs of Albertans. For example, the recently signed federal-provincial Bilateral Housing Agreement will see $678 million invested in the province.

If re-elected we are committed to working with municipalities to examine how to meet their future affordable housing needs.

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An Alberta Party-led government is a strong supporter of continued investment in affordable housing and would continue to partner with the Federal government and municipalities to meet the growing needs of Albertans.
We are also interested in developing a process with municipalities to enable municipal housing authorities to leverage their current housing stock as equity to help finance a significant expansion of the existing housing stock inventory.

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In response to our survey the Green Party submitted the following statement, presented here in full.

The Green Party of Alberta has generally not adopted policy to the level of fine detail that your survey requests. In general, the Green Party supports law and public finance reform that would better recognize the key role that city governments play in meeting the needs of Albertans.

Some specifics: The Party is supportive of developing and expanding public transit systems wherever feasible in the province. Provincial funding would come from the retained portion of the carbon tax.

The Green Party supports the development of a long-term capital plan for additions to, and maintenance of, that portion of the social housing stock that is owned by the province and municipalities.

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The United Conservatives believe affordable housing is a critical issue for some Albertans, particularly those on low incomes, seniors on fixed incomes, and young people entering the housing market.

A United Conservative government will reduce the red tape burden on home builders to lower the regulatory cost that has increased the price of new housing. We would seek to repurpose some capital funding for new and refurbished affordable housing projects into public-private partnership (P3) projects to get more housing per tax dollar.

A United Conservative government would also expand the use of mixed-income housing, recognizing the importance of allowing Albertans, including seniors to remain in their communities.

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Create Alberta-based mortgage rules

Strong home sales, strong Calgary

Current mortgage "stress tests" are hurting first-time home buyers in Calgary.

  • National rules for mortgages were to cool down Vancouver and Toronto markets—we need localized rules
  • From 2017-2018, there’s been a 15% drop in Calgary housing sales
  • Alberta-based mortgage rules for credit unions support our real estate market

Question : Making home ownership more attainable and supporting the local industry

Federal stress-test rules for mortgages were designed to address unstable real estate markets in Vancouver and Toronto, but may be contributing to the slowdown in the local Calgary housing market. Although credit unions in Alberta and ATB Financial are not required to adhere to the federal rules, these institutions have chosen to follow those rules to date. Does your party support the adoption of Alberta-based mortgage approval requirements and any changes to provincial law necessary to ensure that local institutions adhere to these rules?

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When it comes to the mortgage stress test, the issue is not as clear-cut as simply dismissing it as something intended to address the real estate markets in Vancouver and Toronto, and that home ownership for everyone else – including Calgarians – is being unfairly hampered as a result. After years of sustained low lending rates, the new rules were created to keep Canadians from taking on more mortgage debt than they can reasonably afford. The reality is that Albertans continue to have some of the highest debt levels in the country. It’s also quite telling that, despite not being under the jurisdiction of the federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), ATB Financial and Alberta credit unions still opted to adhere to the OSFI stress test rules. Why would they do that, especially since ignoring the rules would have allowed them to expand their customer base and acquire a greater share of the lending market? The simple reason is that they too want to insulate themselves from the risk of homeowners defaulting on their mortgages.

The Alberta Liberals believe that the OSFI stress test rules are important and necessary for keeping mortgage debt in check, but could also probably be modified somewhat and still be as effective. One of the most common proposals we have heard is to make 30-year insured mortgages available again for first-time home buyers, up from the current 25-year limit. This is a case that we’d be prepared to make to Ottawa in relation to federally regulated banks. As for ATB Financial and Alberta credit unions, which are governed by provincial law, the Alberta Liberals would be prepared to work in partnership with those financial institutions to examine the feasibility of Alberta-specific rules or legislation that would aim to balance protection for lenders with greater mortgage access for first-time home buyers.

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There is no doubt that Canada’s housing market is complex and uneven – what works in the overheated markets of Vancouver or Toronto does not necessarily work in Calgary. When the federal government enacted its current stress-test rules for mortgages, we raised these concerns directly with the federal Minister. We will continue to monitor the housing market and fight for affordable home ownership for Albertans, including fighting for national rules that work for Alberta.

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An Alberta Party-led government believes that the current federal stress test requirements, while suited for Vancouver and Toronto, aren’t effective for the Alberta market.  The negative impact of these requirements has meant that increasingly the dream of home ownership is being delayed for more and  more Albertans, or that they are being pushed increasingly into the non-traditional lending market which is a growing concern for us.

An Alberta Party-led government would work with Alberta-based financial institutions to develop a more market appropriate mechanism.

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In response to our survey the Green Party submitted the following statement, presented here in full.

The Green Party of Alberta has generally not adopted policy to the level of fine detail that your survey requests. In general, the Green Party supports law and public finance reform that would better recognize the key role that city governments play in meeting the needs of Albertans.

Some specifics: The Party is supportive of developing and expanding public transit systems wherever feasible in the province. Provincial funding would come from the retained portion of the carbon tax.

The Green Party supports the development of a long-term capital plan for additions to, and maintenance of, that portion of the social housing stock that is owned by the province and municipalities.

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A United Conservative government will seek an exemption from the Canada Home and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) stress tests, and will encourage provincially-regulated financial institutions such as credit unions to return to pre B-20 mortgage underwriting standards, which are more appropriate for Alberta’s housing market.

The federal changes were designed for a housing problem in Vancouver and Toronto – they are inappropriate for Alberta, especially in this economic downturn.

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​​Producers pay for recycling

Save money, protect the environment

In most other provinces, producers cover the cost to recycle their paper and packaging waste.

  • We pay twice for recycling:
    1. for recycling costs are already built into national products
    2. for Blue Cart costs
  • ​If they covered this cost, it could potentially save Calgarians up to $30M/yr in Blue Cart costs
  • We need Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation- shifting recycling responsibility to producers
  • All other provinces have EPR in place or underway

Question : Eliminating the blue cart fee for Calgarians

Calgarians are double paying for recycling. Manufacturers are already pricing their goods to include the cost of recycling the packaging and Calgarians are charged a user fee for the blue bin collection program. Does your party support the introduction of extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation in Alberta in order to reduce waste and eliminate Calgarians’ blue cart fees?

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Yes. The Alberta Liberals believe very strongly that the province must transition away from its current product stewardship initiatives and implement a policy of extended producer responsibility (EPR) via legislation. Doing so will bring us in line with most other Canadian jurisdictions and shift the financial burden of recycling from municipalities to large producers of consumer products. We have been aggressively promoting the need for EPR, but the NDP has refused to act. It is absolutely true that commercial producers are already incorporating the costs of EPR into the price of their products, so Calgarians really are being double-billed when they pay their blue cart fees. The NDP must accept responsibility for this.

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The Alberta NDP recognizes that in many respects Alberta’s recycling system has lagged behind not only other provinces programs, but more importantly behind what Albertans expect. We understand that Albertans want to responsibly recycle their consumer products, despite roadblocks that may be in place preventing more effective recycling. If re-elected we would be open to reviewing the recycling system with interested partners including the City of Calgary and other municipalities to create a more modern and financially viable system.

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Yes, and the Alberta Party will have more to say on this in the coming days.

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In response to our survey the Green Party submitted the following statement, presented here in full.

The Green Party of Alberta has generally not adopted policy to the level of fine detail that your survey requests. In general, the Green Party supports law and public finance reform that would better recognize the key role that city governments play in meeting the needs of Albertans.

Some specifics: The Party is supportive of developing and expanding public transit systems wherever feasible in the province. Provincial funding would come from the retained portion of the carbon tax.

The Green Party supports the development of a long-term capital plan for additions to, and maintenance of, that portion of the social housing stock that is owned by the province and municipalities.

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We would be happy to discuss it further with the City, but have no position at this time.

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Addiction issues & public safety

Responding to the overdose crisis

Mental health and addictions affect all Calgarians. We must continue to work with the Province, community members, and agencies to address complex issues facing at-risk Calgarians. All our citizens and communities must be safe and supported.

  • An average of four Calgarians die every week from a suspected overdose
  • Calgary has the highest rate of deaths due to overdose in our province
  • Overdose deaths have happened in every Calgary community

Question : Supporting Calgarians struggling with addiction and increasing public safety

More Calgarians died from accidental fentanyl overdoses in 2018 than from violent crime and motor vehicle collisions combined, while the prevalence of other dangerous street drugs, including methamphetamine, continued to increase. We must keep these citizens alive and help them start on the path to recovery while ensuring every Calgarian feels safe in every neighbourhood. What is your plan to address this crisis? Will you support and fund all four elements of the solution: prevention, enforcement, harm reduction and treatment? Will you commit to high-level representation on Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy?

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The Alberta Liberals would declare the province’s opioid crisis a public health emergency, which would immediately give officials more tools, resources and flexibility to fight the problem.

Harm reduction is key, and we believe that drug addiction must be approached as a mental health issue and treated as such. The Alberta Liberals support the complete decriminalization (not to be confused with legalization) of all drugs and a fundamental shift toward the medical treatment of addicts instead of incarceration. That said, those who produce or traffic illegal drugs must still be held criminally responsible for their actions.

The Alberta Liberals would expand the number of safe injection sites and offer more flexible hours of operation. We recognize, however, that such sites will invariably have an impact on the neighbourhoods where they are located, so planning and zoning considerations are of critical importance and appropriate funding of police resources must be provided as a matter of course.

The Alberta Liberals support the expanded use of Drug Treatment Courts, and would make them a permanent fixture of our criminal justice system. We believe that better health outcomes and cost savings can be achieved by diverting addicts to treatment instead of jail.

To summarize, yes, the Alberta Liberals will support and fund prevention, enforcement, harm reduction and treatment, and yes, we will absolutely commit to high-level representation on Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy.

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Opioid overdoses and deaths are a public health crisis in Alberta, with a growing number of people and families impacted by opioids. The government is committed to addressing this crisis and taking action.

In May 2017, the province created its Opioid Emergency Response Commission to bring together experts, parents, and law enforcement from across Alberta, including Calgary, to oversee and implement coordinated actions in response to the opioid crisis. We agree with the Commission, as well as with the City, that prevention, enforcement, harm reduction and treatment are all part of the solution. The government has accepted and acted on all recommendations made by the Commission, including increasing funding for opioid response, boosting the distribution of naloxone, and supporting harm reduction methods that have been proven to work – such as the safe injection site at Sheldon Chumir, which has saved over 800 lives.

Safe injection sites are an important tool in addressing the opioid crisis. We understand that Calgary residents need to feel safe in their neighborhoods – to that end we have provided $200,000 to Alpha House, who will use this funding to focus on downtown crime intervention, transportation for those struggling with substance use, and needle pick-up. This will complement increased funding we have provided to support needle collection in the community. As we move forward we will continue to work with the City of Calgary and impacted communities to address addiction issues and ensure the communities around supervised consumption sites are safe.

We are also committed to tackling the root cause of the crisis. We will be putting additional resources to expand access to addiction treatment programs. Additionally, we will launch a lawsuit against the manufacturers of opioid medication to recoup the costs of tackling the Opioid addiction crisis.

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Absolutely. Indeed the cannabis revenue funding share model proposed by the Alberta Party is specifically meant to address these challenges by providing funding to assist municipalities in their efforts all four elements of the solution.

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In response to our survey the Green Party submitted the following statement, presented here in full.

The Green Party of Alberta has generally not adopted policy to the level of fine detail that your survey requests. In general, the Green Party supports law and public finance reform that would better recognize the key role that city governments play in meeting the needs of Albertans.

Some specifics: The Party is supportive of developing and expanding public transit systems wherever feasible in the province. Provincial funding would come from the retained portion of the carbon tax.

The Green Party supports the development of a long-term capital plan for additions to, and maintenance of, that portion of the social housing stock that is owned by the province and municipalities.

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A United Conservative government would treat those living with addictions and mental health conditions with compassion. A United Conservative government will invest $100 million over four years to implement a Mental Health and Addictions Strategy which will ensure early intervention through primary care centers, an expansion of home care supports, and expansion of community programs to facilitate early intervention. We will also support First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples by establishing a continuum of addictions and mental health services, ensuring service provision is not disrupted by jurisdictional disputes.

A United Conservative government also recognizes that an opioid epidemic exists, which constitutes a public health emergency. We would appoint an Associate Minister for Mental Health and Addictions and invest $40 million over four years to launch an Opioid Response Strategy. A United Conservative government would establish a dedicated opioid enforcement team, within the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT), to target aggressive investigation and disruption of opioid manufacturing and dealing.

United Conservatives want to see those with addictions helped, but they also want their parks, neighbourhoods and communities to be safe. We will take a sensible, targeted, and compassionate approach to the issue of supervised consumption sites.

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