“This recovery plan will create tens of thousands of jobs and make our economy more productive in the long run with the largest infrastructure build in Alberta history, with $10-billion in projects that will move people from unemployment to good jobs right now. Building roads, bridges, overpasses, water projects, pipelines, gas lines, schools, hospitals, long term care homes for seniors, drug treatment centres for those struggling with addiction, tourism infrastructure, and much more.”
Kenney says this investment is expected to lead to the creation of 50,000 jobs, and create a boost for surrounding businesses from restaurants to subcontractors to hotels. The investment represents about a 40 per cent increase over what had previously been budgeted in the capital plan for this fiscal year. Plans are also in the works to create 7,000 jobs for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Provincial Government is also accelerating the Job Creation Tax Cut, and reducing the general business tax rate from 10 to 8 per cent, effective July 1. Kenney says this will create an attractive environment for new business investments, and be amongst the lowest rates in all of North America.
“This will accelerate the creation of an estimated 55,000 jobs, new full-time private-sector jobs, and stimulate, we estimate, $13-billion in economic growth.”
Toews says reducing the tax rate will have between a $200-300,000,000 impact on provincial revenues, and a $100-200,000,000 impact on next year’s revenues, but will create a competitive business environment that he says will lead to increased investments. He also says that, due to the reduced economic activity, Alberta will be losing billions of dollars in revenue this year, and it’s crucial to make these investments that create jobs and attract businesses.
There are also plans to launch the Innovation Employment Grant to attract the technology and innovation sectors. Kenney adds that, in order to support this initiative, the province will put $175-million into the Alberta Enterprise Corporation, and expand access to venture capital for early-stage start-up companies.
Plans are also in the works to create Investment Alberta, a new provincial agency dedicated to leading a world-wide campaign to attract job-creating investments, growing the network of international offices, and providing assistance and incentives to prospective investors.
Kenney adds that they will also try to put Albertans first for available jobs, by asking the Federal Government to reduce the number of occupational categories under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for Alberta. He says by exercising their power under the Temporary Foreign Worker Annex through the Alberta-Canada Agreement on Immigration Cooperation, they will identify certain occupational opportunities that should not be processed for temporary foreign workers.
“We’re asking Ottawa not to process applications for temporary foreign workers in a range of dozens of occupational categories, the vast majority of occupational categories. And the reason for this is because, as I’ve said, we’re facing a real unemployment rate of between 20 and 25 per cent across all ages and skill levels. And it is extremely difficult for me to justify employers looking outside of Alberta, to bring people into a labour market in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.
“So what we are doing is telling employers, in the vast majority of occupations, that they will not, for the time being, be able to access the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.”
He acknowledges that there will be some industries that are exempt from this suspension of the program, as they require workers with specific skills that are in short supply in this province. However, Kenney adds that plans are in the works to create targeted training programs that would allow Albertans to get a foot in the door of these industries.
Kenney says most of these initiatives are still being developed, and further details will be announced in the coming weeks as the plans are finalized.
A full update of the financial and employment impact the oil price war and COVID-19 pandemic has had on Alberta’s economy is expected to be announced sometime in the summer.