A federal carbon tax, announced by the Liberal government, is a decision not based on science or facts, but on ideology which will do nothing but create hardships on Canadian families.
In a fragile Alberta economy this decision creates uncertainty in our resource sector driving away hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment.
The stats are staggering: the number of unemployed Albertans has nearly doubled since the start of 2015, from 112,500 to almost 207,000 in August 2016; employment insurance claims up 90%; vacancy rate in downtown Calgary at more than 25%.
This goes beyond oil and gas. Since the start of 2015, the province has lost one in five natural resource jobs (170,900 to 137,600), one in five agriculture jobs (from 64,000 to 51,400) and one in four manufacturing jobs (from 149,500 to 112,500).
These are real numbers, but what we need Canadians to understand is there are real people behind the unemployment numbers.
This is about families, about vibrant communities, about our future.
Each one of us needs to start talking about the real people involved in this industry from roughnecks to research scientists to restaurant owners.
We need to start talking about how this anti-oil crusade has affected the kids not playing hockey this year because their parents cannot afford registration, the welder who is keeping his business afloat on his line-of-credit, and our neighbours who are losing their homes.
Our task is to show those who do not support our resource sector the Canadian economy, and the growth and prosperity we’ve come to expect, will falter until Alberta is strong again.
As Royal Bank CEO Dave McKay said last month Canada will not succeed if Alberta’s energy sector does not succeed.
The Prime Minister imposing a carbon tax of up to $50/tonne – almost double what Alberta has already imposed – will ensure Alberta’s resource sector cannot succeed and all Canadians will suffer.
This is a punitive carbon tax which is higher than any other jurisdiction putting our energy, manufacturing and agricultural industries at a significant competitive disadvantage.
For example, gas prices will go up 11 cents a litre and 14 cents a litre for diesel. One Foothills farmer said his fuel costs alone will go up $25,000. A local municipality said the tax will cost them $500,000. As a result, prices on food will go up and taxes will be hiked.
Canadian taxpayers will be paying for this carbon tax again and again and again.
As Albertans, we believe the Liberal Government must present decisive action and solutions in our time of need. Yet so far, they have failed to put forward a plan recognizing the jobs crisis in Alberta.
It is because of this lack of action Alberta’s Conservative MPs launched the Alberta Jobs Taskforce.
Over the coming weeks, the Taskforce will collect information from everyday Albertans, employers, small business owners, social assistance organizations, and other stakeholders affected by the current jobs crisis.
We want your valuable insight which will provide policy ideas on how we can support this industry, attract investment, create jobs and keep our talent here.
We must stop apologizing for our natural resources. We should be proud of our energy sector, proud of the men and women it employs, proud of our achievements in research and innovation, proud of our safety and environmental records, and proud of our potential.
Canada has the most stringent regulations in the world and as a result, we are responsible for just 1.6% of global GHG emissions.
If reducing GHG emissions is truly our goal then let us have access to Asian markets where our oil and gas can reduce dependence on coal-fired power plants; let us share our technology and innovation to ensure other jurisdictions – who are responsible for 40% of global GHGs – are using the most environmentally efficient methods to extract resources and power their homes.
We need to work together and take a collaborative approach in finding real solutions to the very real jobs crisis in Alberta. Our Alberta Jobs Taskforce will be an active part of finding those solutions.
I will be hosting roundtables as part of the taskforce in November throughout the riding and I am looking forward to your participation.
For more information and to provide your input, please visit the website below:
Deputy Critic, Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
Vice-chair, Standing Committee on Natural Resources