Posted on Feb 1, 2018

I believe in a vision for a modern economy that supports our workers

Sherwood Park News - February 1, 2018

As a young voice in government, I believe in a vision for a modern economy that supports our workers to have the job stability that their families need. For decades, relying predominately on the oil and gas sector has left so many workers vulnerable to the boom and bust cycle. It is this sentiment that I have heard echoed around kitchen tables, at community gatherings and on the doorsteps. As a legislator, I reflect on the wisdom of Albert Einstein when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

I think we need to challenge the thinking that sees Canada’s high tech industry residing in southern Ontario with hipsters that spend their time coding and designing phones. I say that there is another high tech hub called the oil sands. That’s where “Made in Alberta” technology lets us extract oil from sand without excavation or tailing ponds. Geography may have given us the oil, but it took Alberta’s innovators to help us use it. To further tap into this resource, the carbon levy invests the funds needed to propel these investments into 21st century jobs. Workers want to see the over 7,000 jobs that will be created by EDP Renewables Canada, Enel Green Power Canada and Capital Power Corp. In December, it was announced that over $1 billion would be invested in Alberta because of their successful bids in the Renewable Electricity Program. The renewables program, supported by carbon revenue from large emitters, encourages the transition to renewable energy.

As Alberta’s economy continues its upward trend, we must continue to promote diversification and support job creation across sectors where Alberta has a competitive advantage and those that have the most growth potential. In the last year, we have seen the expansion of major companies in Alberta, including Amazon, RocketSpace, Swoop, Champion Petfoods, Pinnacle, Cavendish Farms, and Google.

The supports put in place since we were elected are starting to see real results. The two business investor tax credits we introduced support businesses that are diversifying our economy and scaling up our GDP. These tax credits result in over $1.2 billion invested in Alberta — that’s 9,000-plus jobs. A Strathcona County example I have mentioned before is Nutraponics who are leveraging the funds in the investor tax credit to grow the size of their business. In addition, and much to the benefit of our community, the petrochemical diversification program that the NDP government introduced is noted as a deciding factor in the recent announcement by Inter Pipeline for their plastics facility in the Industrial Heartland. Lastly, a pivotal means of diversifying our economy is through small businesses. We have directed funds from the carbon levy to reduce the small business tax rate. The cut will save small business owners an estimated $175 million in 2017-18.

Scrapping the carbon levy would mean losing out on thousands of jobs, billions in new investments, and only result in more blocked pipelines and lost economic opportunities. Indeed, it is forward-thinking, sustainable solutions, like the carbon levy, that attracts business titans like Amazon and Google to Alberta. In regards to maintaining our competitive edge to investors, Albertans and Alberta businesses will still pay $8.7 billion less in total taxes and carbon charges than if we lived in any other province. Therefore, the carbon levy provides the necessary avenues to build the foundations for a modern economy.