Mr. Fraser: One of the government’s favourite lines is that they are making life better for Albertans. Well, that’s also the goal of the nonprofit sector although they do it with fewer resources and less fanfare. That’s why it’s very troubling to hear that many of the government’s actions are having a direct and negative effect on nonprofits across the province. The carbon tax, for example, is hurting their bottom lines and taking away money from those that need it the most. With the carbon tax slated to keep increasing, they’re worried about their future and rightly so. To the Premier: will you commit to a carbon tax exemption for nonprofits so that the dollars are going towards the people they’re intended to help and not government coffers?
The Speaker: The hon. Premier.
Ms Notley: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. You know, nonprofits truly are the beating heart of Alberta communities, and we will do everything we can to continue the work that we’ve been doing to support them. When it comes to energy efficiency and the carbon levy, we’ve created the nonprofit energy efficiency transition program. We have already provided support to more than 100 nonprofits across the province. That’s in addition to other things that we have done like, for instance, increasing FCSS funding for the first time in over a decade, by about 25 per cent. These are the kinds of things you do to make life . . .
The Speaker: Thank you, hon. Premier.
Mr. Fraser: Well, Mr. Speaker, the carbon tax is not the only measure this government has taken that’s impacting our nonprofits. The increase in minimum wage has been made with good intentions, but the government isn’t the one that has to deal with those consequences. The increase in labour costs means fewer staff, shorter hours, or it might mean a nonprofit has to close its doors completely. The effects of this increase could be substantial for the nonprofit sector, and it would be wise of this government to understand what the effects of another hike would look like. To the Premier: will the government commit to a review of the impact of the changes to the minimum wage on the nonprofit sector before introducing yet another increase?
The Speaker: The hon. Premier.
Ms Notley: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. What we know is that in this province, during the recession as well as during the previous booms and now during a time when things are recovering, we absolutely cannot have people go to work in the morning, work for eight hours, and then go home and have to stop on the way at the food bank in order to feed their families. It doesn’t matter if they work in the retail sector or in the nonprofit sector or in corporate offices. It is unacceptable. Our government took action to stop that, and we are proud of that.
Mr. Fraser: It is a long way from here to there, isn’t it, Mr. Speaker?
I understand there might be some on the government side of the House that think services in the charitable organizations, that they provide, should come from the government programs instead. Well, Mr. Speaker, I disagree with that notion. While we all agree that these organizations could use some more resources, nonprofits are about Albertans making life better for Albertans, not politicians. The relationship between governments and nonprofits should be a partnership, and that’s not how nonprofits feel they’re being treated right now. To the Premier: when will this government start treating nonprofits as an equal partner in making life better for Albertans?
Ms Notley: Well, Mr. Speaker, our government has done quite a wide range of work with nonprofit sectors as they provide the important services that they do, and in fact we do absolutely respect the work that they do. As I mentioned previously, one of the first things our government did when we just got elected was, after many, many, many years of asking the previous government, of which the member opposite was a part, to increase FCSS funding after not touching it for years. We did increase it. The Finance minister tells me that it was 33 per cent, not 25 per cent. So we will continue to work with nonprofits because we understand how important they are for making life better for Albertans.