Provincial Briefs

Lien power coming for unpaid oil and gas taxes

Proposed changes to the Municipal Government Act would restore special lien municipalities could use to require oil and gas companies to pay overdue property taxes. If passed, municipalities would be able to seize property to cover outstanding debts.

“An overwhelming majority of oil and gas companies are responsible job creators who pay their taxes. This legislation is intended to help municipalities go after those companies who refuse to play by the rules. Bad actors who ignore the rules and don’t pay their taxes force everyone else to fill in the gaps – that’s not fair,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver in a media release.

NDP Municipal Affairs Critic Joe Ceci said the UCP failed to act on a problem that has been growing over the past few years.

“The UCP government stood by for over two years when municipalities needed action. Now, all they’ve done is introduce legislation that returns to an ineffective approach from the past while putting the burden and costs of enforcement on municipalities,” Ceci said Thursday. “In fact, the administration and implementation costs for these municipalities might not be worth the recovered costs, which means municipalities are no further ahead.”

Government providing funding to help businesses go digital

The UCP says their $10 million investment over two years into a Digital Economy Program will provide small businesses with free support as they grow and manage their businesses through technology.

“We want to provide Alberta’s small business community with easy-to-use tools and resources to grow. This program will not only support Alberta’s small businesses but will also provide employment opportunities for post-secondary students and recent graduates looking to apply their technology skills and gain valuable experience,” said Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer.

Business Link and Digital Main Street have been contracted to deliver the two-initiative program on behalf of the government.

The ShopHERE powered by Google program gives eligible small businesses the ability to create and operate an online store with the help of Digital Main Street, which will provide training and support to manage it.

Businesses must have fewer than 50 employees and be registered in Alberta.

The Digital Service Squad Grant program will provide funding to eligible organizations to hire Alberta post-secondary students and recent graduates to regional digital service squads that will provide services and technical support to eligible small businesses in their geographic region at no cost.

Eligible small businesses can apply to the regional digital service squad for free technical support, including help with developing digital transformation plans and setting up and adopting digital technologies ranging from websites to Google business profiles, social media, e-commerce and more.

NDP Economic Development and Innovation Critic Deron Bilous said the UCP government’s pandemic response [to help small businesses] is too little, too late.

“It took the UCP over a year and [a] half to provide this support to struggling businesses. On top of this, many small businesses still haven’t received the financial support they were promised up to six months ago, and the UCP still hasn’t acted on capping fees for third-party delivery apps,” Bilous said.

More information on the program, including full eligibility details and how to apply, can be found on the Digital Main Street Alberta website.

More information on the Digital Service Squad Grant program, including full eligibility details and how to apply, can be found on Business Link’s website.




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