Gateway Gazette

CFIB calls for emergency debate in legislature on Alberta’s economic crisis

 

AB government urged to put moratorium on any major new public policies until economy has recovered

CALGARY, January, 2015 – Following Friday’s Statistics Canada release of Alberta’s job numbers, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is appealing to the Alberta government to recall the legislature early for an emergency debate on the economic crisis plaguing Alberta’s economy and small business.

According to Statistics Canada figures, there has been a major decline in full-time employment since this time last year.  The job numbers come on the heels of CFIB’s latest Business Barometer results released on December 31 that showed Alberta small business confidence plunged to an historic low of 33.1 on the 100 point scale, the weakest level ever recorded anywhere in the country.

“During the last recession, many big businesses enacted significant cost cutting measures and laid people off in droves, but thankfully small and medium-sized business held on to their staff as long as possible, providing much needed stability to the economy,” said Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director for CFIB.

“This time, however, things appear to be different.  By all indications, we are starting to see rapidly growing lay-offs by smaller, independent businesses, as they struggle to survive the extended downturn.  When so many entrepreneurs are shedding jobs, and at serious risk of failure, that spells serious, fundamental trouble for Alberta,” said Ruddy.

According to CFIB’s Business Barometer numbers, the employment picture for small and medium-sized businesses has changed significantly in the past few months, with 30 per cent of business owners now saying they plan to reduce their full-time workforce, compared to only 9 per cent who intend to hire.

“The level of frustration and despair in the small business community is unequivocally evident.  Our elected leaders must do a better job of understanding the realities of independent business and discuss ways to take meaningful action to support Alberta small business community through this most difficult time.  There is no time to waste,” said Ruddy.

Citing major new policies, such as personal and corporate tax hikes, huge jumps in the minimum wage, a massive new carbon tax, and the prospect of granting sweeping new tax powers for city governments, CFIB calls for an immediate moratorium on any further policy changes until the economy has sufficiently recovered.

“Although low oil prices are at the heart of Alberta’s economic problems, the piling on of one bad policy after another has made a bad situation a lot worse.  We are calling for the Premier and her government to hit pause on any additional major public policy changes until the economy has sufficiently recovered,” said Ruddy.

The Legislature is scheduled to resume on the second Tuesday in February.  But the Government House Leader has until January 15 to file a legislative calendar, and could recall the house earlier than February 9th to have an emergency debate on the economy.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region

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