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Alberta premier to announce details about re-indexing AISH government benefit

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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith will announce more details about how her government plans to re-index Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped and Persons with Developmental Disabilities (AISH) and other government benefit programs.

Smith addressed the plans during her televised address last Tuesday to provide financial relief amid the ongoing inflation and affordability crisis, and talked about changing AISH when issuing mandate letters to her ministers earlier this month.

AISH supports about 70,000 Albertans with permanent medical issues that prevent them from earning a living by providing a basic benefit of $1,685 per month, according to the province.

The United Conservative government de-indexed AISH in 2019 because the province needed to find ways to “exercise restraint” and work to erase the $63-billion debt.

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A University of Calgary study published in July found that Alberta’s de-indexation policy cost residents more in taxes: Albertans paid $118.6 million more in taxes in 2020 because of the province’s de-indexation policy.

Read more: Smith announces financial relief measures for Albertans during televised address

Smith also accused the federal government of causing inflation through government spending and attacking Alberta’s economy, and said Alberta’s fiscal situation is in a position where the government is able to provide financial relief for citizens who need it.

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“These are just first steps and there’s much more to do,” she said during her televised speech.

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley has accused Smith’s government of contributing to the affordability crisis and said Smith’s plan was “poorly thought out.”

Read more: Provincial income tax policy costs Albertans more: University of Calgary study

She continued to say that if the NDP are elected next year, her government will permanently reverse the UCP’s cuts to the child and family benefit, the seniors benefit, income support and AISH.

“We’re not buying it. And neither should you,” Notley said in a statement after the premier’s televised speech.

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“And we’ll go further. We’ll take action on the things you don’t have a choice about paying for like groceries, utilities, insurance, gasoline, tuition and housing.”

— With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News