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January 27th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 4
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MLA Stier holds meeting with council
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald archive photo
Crowsnest Pass municipal council.
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
The government appears to have blinked with regards to Bill 6. Wildrose MLA Pat Stier is glad.

At a council meeting on Jan. 19, Stier credited citizens who aggressively rallied against the bill and both the NDP and opposition groups for creating a more acceptable bill. The government allowed the passage of the amended Bill 6 through the legislature on Dec. 10.

“The government did blink,” he said. “They backed off on what they were trying to do and it was thanks to the efforts of ordinary Albertans. We think it was a good team effort.”

Bill 6 subjects farms and ranches to occupational health and safety rules and makes it mandatory for operations with paid employees to carry workers compensation coverage.

Amendments to the bill exempt family members working on farms from Workers' Compensation coverage and occupational health and safety rules that paid farm workers must adhere to. Neighbours who come to the farm to help are also exempt.
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As the municipal affairs critic, Stier said he was surprised at the amount of debt the government was advocating for with oil prices continuing their slide.

“The economy is in trouble, commodities are in trouble,” he said. “The government was not supporting the people and now they’re considering a new provincial sales tax, the carbon tax.”

In its first budget last October, Notley’s government increased infrastructure spending to $34 billion over the next five years.

Alberta’s debt was expected to reach almost $48 billion by the end of the decade but those projections were based on benchmark oil averaging US$50 a barrel this year and US$61 a barrel in the upcoming fiscal year that starts April 1. West Texas Intermediate started the year under US$40 a barrel and is now under US$30 a barrel.

In a report issued Jan. 21, the Toronto-based agency DBRS said the province would exceed its own self-imposed legislated debt limits this fiscal year.
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“The negative trend reflects DBRS’s expectation that the continued weakness in oil prices will contribute to a material erosion in the province’s fiscal performance and accumulation of debt,” said the DBRS report.

“DBRS believes that the fiscal response is unlikely to be adequate to maintain credit metrics consistent with the AAA rating, in particular maintaining a DBRS-adjusted debt burden below 15 per cent of GDP,” it added.

“Debt is now expected to exceed 15 per cent of GDP as early as (fiscal) 2016-17.”

A law passed last year by Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government does not allow the province to borrow so much money that the total exceeds 15 per cent of its gross domestic product.
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January 27th ~ Vol. 85 No. 4
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