This Christmas brought a bone-chilling blast of air that settled over the area with temperatures as low as -35 C. The cold stalled cars, froze pipes, and made travel difficult.
Many of us took advantage of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to stay warm inside. However, many local workers had no choice but to be outside. They are the men and women who started frozen vehicles at curbsides, coaxed hot air from cranky furnaces, thawed frozen plumbing, responded to fire calls, roadside collisions or medical emergencies.
They are the trades people, city workers, firefighters, paramedics and police officers who are charged with working outside regardless of the weather.
Those workers included the crew who were in charge of creating the annual spectacle of St. Albert fireworks on Mission Hill on a frigid New Year’s Eve, out in the frigid elements to make sure the show went on. And it did, sparkling the sky with blasts of colour and light.
As we head into a brand new year it is good to pay tribute to the men and women who we count on to keep our city running and tend to our needs, regardless of the inclement conditions.
Death and taxes
There are few things that you can count on besides death and taxes. Just as Albertans try to figure out how to pay those Christmas bills, we face a 50 per cent increase in the carbon tax.
At the pumps the tax will increase to 6.73 cents per litre for gas and rise to 8.03 cents a litre of diesel. The rise also adds a further 50 cent tax to a gigajoule of natural gas, which heats most Alberta homes. The government is hoping you will forget about the extra costs, as it sends out rebates to 60 per cent of families as early as this week.
The carbon tax is a double whammy for small businesses already wrestling with steep minimum wage increases and a tough economy. Scheduled to reach $15 in October of this year, minimum wages will have increased a whopping 50 per cent since the NDP began ratcheting them up Oct. 1, 2015. The premier likes to point to a cut in the small business tax rate, but that maxes out at $5,000 and does little to offset the increased cost of doing business under her government including changes to employment standards effective Jan. 1.
The Rachel Notley government boasts that more than half of the carbon tax will go back into the economy through rebates to families and the rest will go into green energy efforts. But many Alberta homeowners and businesses would argue it’s done little to cut GHG emissions and is really little more than an income redistribution scheme.
How the government plans to measure ‘success’ of the carbon tax in reducing GHG emissions remains to be seen. For now it’s hanging its hat on earning the ‘social license’ it says will lead to construction of at least one new pipeline. With a stubborn $10-billion deficit, rapidly growing debt and an election just over a year away, a failed Climate Action Plan will cost the NDP dearly at the polls.