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Alberta announces 25 per cent seniors registry services discount

Applies to fees for services such as driver's and marriage licences, vehicle registration, renewals, licence plates
Budget Day Dale Nally 2
Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Morinville-St. Albert MLA, in his ofice with the budget following the first CPC budget at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton October 24, 2019. DAN RIEDLHUBER/St. Albert Gazette

Effective April 1, Albertans over 65 will receive 25 per cent off personal registry services.

Personal registry services include fees for driver's licences, vehicle registration, licence renewals, licence plates and marriage licences.

The province anticipates the discount will help more than 725,000 seniors, according to a Government of Alberta news release.

Last year, Premier Danielle Smith tasked Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction Minister Dale Nally with making the fee cut a reality.

“Hearing the increasing concerns about affordability from seniors and knowing that more than 178,000 seniors in Alberta access income supports just to meet basic needs was more than enough motivation to ensure my ministry made the seniors discount a top priority,” Nally said at a news conference with Smith last Thursday.  

The discount will also apply when seniors need to access data such as vehicle information reports and birth certificates, he said.

It will not apply to some services such as commercial vehicle registrations, personal property services, personalized licence plates, fines and restricted licence applications.

“The discount will be applied at the time of payment so it will be easy and simple,” Nally said. Seniors can receive the discount both in person and online.

More discounts from other ministries are on their way, Nally said, including a discount for drivers’ medical exams and one for camping fees.

“We want to do the best that we can to address the fact that seniors are on fixed incomes, we want to make life more affordable,” he said.

The discount is not income tested, meaning it will apply to anyone over the age of 65 regardless of income.

“We didn't campaign on income testing it,” Nally said. “We appreciate the work that [seniors] have done in providing for the Alberta advantage, and we wanted every senior to be able to benefit from this discount.”

Nally, who is also MLA for and Morinville-St. Albert, told the Gazette the province expects the discount will cost $16 to $20 million per year.

The province chose the registries discount instead of a payment that would go directly to seniors because it “wanted to provide the discount right at point of sale,” Nally said.

“If we did a payment, it would likely be a rebate, which meant that seniors would be fronting that money and we didn't want them to have to front anything,” he said.

During consultations, Nally heard “loud and clear” registry agents didn’t want the discount to “fall on their backs.”

“It’s government that will take the hit on the discount and not registry agents,” Nally said. “[Agents] will remit the discount, we'll take it off at point of sale, and then we will reimburse them afterwards… I believe it's going to be a very quick rebate back to them.”

Bud James, president of the Association of Alberta Registry Agents, said registry agent sustainability is a concern across the province.

Because prices at registries are fixed the province, registry profits are “in some cases quite slim,” he said.

“We are pleased that Minister Nally has agreed with us that this issue requires further discussion, and we are in the process of starting the discussion,” James said.

“We're very hopeful that we'll come to an agreement on compensation that is acceptable to both parties.”

James said registries were involved “since the beginning” in designing how the seniors discount would be implemented, and will not be affected financially.

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