Originally posted 21 July 2016

There are three set of inter-governmental relations in Canada (excluding First Nations relations): federal-provincial; federal-municipal and provincial-municipal. Alberta scored an important victory earlier this year when a payment was made to the province for $253 million in recognition of a drop in the province’s tax revenue.  This relatively obscure federal fiscal stabilization program was last tapped by Alberta during the 1980s.

One of the major developments in intergovernmental relations is the amendments to the Municipal Government Act (MGA). Municipalities are creatures of provincial legislative authority and therefore have no powers unless so granted. This paternal system rankles big city mayors who preside over large municipal administrations and  frequently represent many more voters than one MLA.

A perennial problem facing municipal officials has been the Alberta government’s approach to funding infrastructure.  Municipal governments rely heavily on a property tax which, in turn, is dependent on assessments of property values of businesses and homes. Recent changes do not give local governments any greater flexibility and as the article by Sue Bohaichuk, CEO of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, shows larger urban governments are getting tired of promises of stable funding from their provincial masters.Op-ed Alberta Urban Municipalities

Alberta Metis applaud $1.6 million land deal23-3-18 GM

(Edmonton) property taxes jump 70% over decade of city growth6-12-17 EJ

Alberta launches tools that could cut property taxes for small businesses1-1-18 GM

Urban theorist’s advice for our city- adapt or die10-10-17 EJ

Metro Line LRT to face overruns, city staff warns13-9-17 EJ

Grande Cache feels NDP adding insult to injury10-7-17 EJ

Legal Notice CIty of Edmonton borrowing13-5-17 EJ




Bill  21, the Modernized Municipal Government Act  was tabled in the spring sitting of the legislative assembly was a discussion draft of the MGA and will be re-introduced with amendments this fall. With pressure from lower assessment bases, municipal tax assessors and politicians will be pressed to be able to balance budgets in the near term. While 2019 seems the earliest that a harmonized sales tax could be introduced- that might be shared with municipalities, unless oil prices begin a progressive upward climb, look for rising tensions between local politicians and provincial cabinet ministers.



This entry was posted in Intergovernmental on by .

About albertarecessionwatch

Former Director, Institute for Public Economics, University of Alberta and currently Fellow of the Institute. Former executive with Alberta Treasury Branches. Worked for the Alberta government for 12 years with Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs and Alberta Treasury. Areas of focus: financial institutions legislation and policy, government borrowing, and relations with credit rating agencies. Ph.D in Political Science (Uof A), Masters of Public Administration and BComm. (Carleton University). Author of Politics and Public Debt: The Dominion, the Banks and Alberta's Social Credit. Presently working on study of Alberta provincial agency board appointments.

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