With the start of the new year comes fee increases in several different outlets as well as tax hikes.
After the UCP government abolished the provincial carbon levy at the end of May 2019, Albertans can expect to take a hit as the federal carbon tax has been now been implemented effective January 1, 2020. A carbon pollution price of $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide, equivalent for the first three months of the year (January-March 2020), is increasing to $30 per tonne in April through to March, 2021.
According to the Canadian Taxpayer Federation this can result in Albertans paying an average of 6.73 cents/litre when fuelling up. To reach Canada's "climate" target the price would have to reach 68 cents/litre carbon tax by 2050, gradually rising over the coming years to 8.84 cents/litre in 2021 and 11.05 cents/litre in 2022. Also anticipate paying more when heating your home.
“In 2019, Albertans overwhelmingly rejected carbon taxes at the ballot box – twice. We kept our commitment to scrap Alberta’s carbon tax. And while some pundits and politicians at home would prefer that we simply roll over and accept Ottawa’s unconstitutional imposition of carbon taxes on Albertans, we are steadfast in our commitment to stand up for our province – including with our current challenge at the Alberta Court of Appeal and supporting Saskatchewan and Ontario in their legal efforts as well," expressed Alberta's Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer in a statement.
The Government of Canada will give back proceeds collected in Alberta from the federal fuel charge through payments to families as well as the remainder of proceeds being used to provide support to the province's schools, hospitals, small to medium sized businesses, colleges and universities, municipalities, not for profit organizations and Indigenous communities. In Alberta the amount is estimated at $610 million over the next four fiscal years.
Families can expect to see the Climate Action Incentive (CAI) payments starting in early 2020 through 2019 personal income tax returns.
$444 for a single adult or the first adult in a couple
$222 for the second adult in a couple. Single parents will receive this amount for their first child.
$111 for each child in the family (starting with the second child for single parents).
On average, households in Alberta will see around $880. In early 2020, we'll see roughly $126 for the first three months of the carbon tax (January-March) and about $754 for the next 12 months (April 2020-March 2021). These numbers will be different for various family compositions and circumstances.
The maximum pensionable earning under Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for 2020 will also increase to $58,700 from $57,400. Employee and employer contribution rates will increase to 5.25 per cent up from 5.1 per cent and the self-employed contribution rate will increase to 10.5 percent from 10.2 per cent. This will cost average Canadians $97 this year and is the second of five planned annual increases. After all five increases are installed, Canadian workers will be paying $550 more per year.
According to Canada's food price report for 2020, put out by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, a two to four per cent increase in food prices is anticipated this year. This will bring the annual cost of food for the average Canadian family to $12,667 which is an increase of $487 from 2019.
Heading to the registry this year will also see you forking out some additional costs. When renewing your vehicle or obtaining a driver's license, 2019's base government fee was $75 with registries being able to charge a maximum service fee up to $9, plus GST.
As of 2020, the base government fee is now $80 with registries being able to charge a maximum service fee up to $13 and no GST. The price to renew your vehicle is now a maximum of $93.00 from 2019's maximum of $84.45. Expect to see slight variations in price between registries across Alberta depending on what they choose to accumulate over the base government fee up to the maximum amount of $13. The last time there was an increase in fees was back in April of 2011. Government Sales Tax (GST) has now been eliminated from registry agent service fees in 2020. This comes from Alberta receiving an update ruling from the Canada Revenue Agency although, GST charges will remain on personalized plate orders and refund fees.
In an effort to reduce tobacco use among Albertans, the tobacco tax increased on Oct. 25, 2019. Cartons of 200 cigarettes have increased by $5, loose tobacco has gone up 3.75 cents per gram and cigars have increased to 142 per cent of the taxable price of the cigar with a minimum tax per cigar of 27.5 cents and a maximum of $8.61. As more government review is being had with vaping products, a future tax could be instated come the 2020 budget.
Due to the provincial government's changes to the transportation funding model, the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) will receive around $2.35 million less than they anticipated. This has resulted in CCSD increasing transportation fees and decreasing Calgary Transit bus pass rebates in hopes of recovering 60 per cent of the funding loss ($1.41 million).
Parents with elementary school students who qualify for transportation and do not require specialized services will now be charged an additional fee of $147 per student as of January 2020.
Rocky View Schools (RVS) will also be changing student transportation fees as a result of the 2019 provincial budget. To help offset the $1.41 million shortfall, the board has re-introduced a transportation fee of $308 per student who attend their designated school and live 2.4 km or further. In the past this cost was covered by the transportation fee replacement grant.
Post secondary students will feel the pocket squeeze as the five-year tuition freeze (scheduled to end in 2021) has been lifted this year. This will allow tuition to increases to a maximum seven per cent at the institutional level, per year for the next three years and individual programs up to 10 per cent over the next three years. Student loans will see an increase as well. Beforehand only interest rates set at prime were being paid, now students will pay the prime interest rate plus one per cent. The current prime interest rate sits at 3.95 per cent.
Your electricity bill will be taking a hit as well as franchise fees with Fortis Alberta will increase from $9.07 (15 per cent) to $10.99 (17 per cent). Revenue from fees in 2019 are expected to be around $2.2 million.
Cochranites will be paying an additional 1.93 per cent increase in property taxes in 2020, followed by a 2.76 per cent hike in 2021 and 2.51 per cent increase in 2022. The average home owner with a single-family house assessed at $479,900 will be dishing out $2,294.44 in municipal taxes. This is an increase of $43.44 from 2019.
“When I spent the eight hours of community engagement at the rec centre (Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre), I would say close to 99 per cent of residents I spoke to were in favour of an increase if it was going to the projects that we have listed," mentioned mayor Jeff Genung.
The projects include: Transit Hub and Cochrane Innovation Outpost, Extension of Highway 22 to Sunset Blvd, Jack Tennant Memorial Bridge and connecting roadway, Centre Avenue widening, Centre Avenue and Highway 1A intersection improvements, pedestrian crossing between Historic Downtown and the Quarry, Smart Traffic Management Technology, new RCMP detachment and servicing Horse Creek Sports Park.
The UCP government is pausing indexation which means non-refundable tax credits and tax bracket threshold amounts will carry forward from 2019 and not increase as they normally do every year. The UCP says this move will reduce tax expenditures by about $20 million in 2020 and $600 million by the end of 2022-23, but according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation this move is a hidden bracket creep tax hike and will ultimately cost a two-income household between $70 and $222 in 2020 depending on income level.
Also going up a whopping 23 cents is your waste, recycling and organics curbside cart collection. The amount in 2019 was $22.25 and has increased to 22.48 as of January 1.
While hopping on Cochrane's on demand transit system COLT, expect to pay a fare for your commute as the free trial service is over as of January 1, 2020.
A single one-way ticket will cost you $2.50 (In app or exact cash on board)
A book of 10 tickets will cost you $20
An adult (18-59) monthly pass is $50
A senior (60+) monthly pass is $30
A student (6-18 + Student ID) monthly pass is $25
Infant (5 and under) are free
New membership rates for Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) have also seen some changes back in October of 2019. The new monthly rate for a child (2-12) is $29, youth (13-22) is $39, adult (23-59) is $49, senior (60+) is $39 and family (2 adults/unlimited dependents up to age 22) is $99.
Drop-in rates for SLSFSC now allow participants to use the entire facility, not just one specific area. The new drop-in rate for a Child (2-12) is $8, Youth (13-22) is $10, Adult (23-59) is $15, Senior (60+) is $10 and Family (2 adults/unlimited dependents up to age 22) is $25.