September 29, 2016

“Alberta government rubbing salt in the wound”

Paige MacPhersonAlberta CTF Director

(Paige MacPherson is Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. This op-ed was published in the September issues of Business in Calgary and Business in Edmonton magazines.)

The Alberta government does not control the price of oil. If it’s been said once, it’s been said a million times. It’s the main line of defense from the government when facing its fiscal critics.

The Alberta government does not control the price of oil. However, the Alberta government does control its policy reaction to the price of oil. And right now, that reaction is to grab a handful of salt and rub it right where it hurts.

For the first time since Statistics Canada began collecting data in the 1970s, Alberta’s unemployment rate has surpassed that of Nova Scotia. For decades, Nova Scotians have migrated to Alberta in droves to find work. East Coasters are a dime a dozen in Calgary and beyond. But now, alongside other Albertans, many find themselves struggling with the same lack of jobs they faced back east.

Alberta’s unemployment rate was spiked recently by a large number of new people entering the province’s labour force, without the availability of jobs with which to match them. Those hardest hit are aged 15-18. These workers are mostly seeking low-skilled, part-time work – jobs generally created by Alberta’s retail stores and restaurants. Unfortunately, these businesses have small margins and are the ones hit fastest by tax and wage hikes.

With the provincial recession, Albertans are already consuming less. This reality should have signalled that businesses need support in the form of lower taxes and lessened regulation.

The Alberta government didn’t drop the price of oil. The government didn’t spark the recession. But they are certainly fanning the flames.

Almost immediately, Alberta’s NDP government hiked business taxes, personal income taxes, alcohol and tobacco taxes, train fuel taxes, education property taxes, doubled the existing "big emitter" carbon levy and introduced a whopper of a carbon tax and substantial minimum wage hikes.

These policy choices (yes, the government had a choice) were all made at the same time the federal government hiked taxes and Canada Pension Plan premiums, and municipal governments in Calgary and Edmonton hiked property taxes for the umpteenth time.

Protests at the legislature have been frequent. Business groups have begged the government to please take a step back and put their steamrolling tax hikes on hold. Calgary’s small businesses are dropping like flies. None of it seems to matter to the government.

Recently, Lethbridge restaurant owner explained to Global News that a minimum wage hike would force him to cut staff by 50 per cent. (It should be self-evident that a business must turn a profit in order to create jobs.) He wrote to Lethbridge East MLA Maria Fitzpatrick. Her response? Fitzpatrick called him selfish. Publicly.

Why isn’t the government receptive in the least to the plain-faced struggles of those who are paying our MLAs’ tabs? 

Perhaps we should start phrasing it in a way they’ll actually respond to:

If you want healthy tax revenue, you need a healthy business climate that respects job creators. Just ask the Nova Scotians-turned-Albertans who call this once-prospering province home. 

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commented 2016-10-02 20:57:40 -0400
David D if what you say is true.Then why is the price of fuel so high in Canada when oil is almost 1/3 of the price it was?Canadians should support Canadian oil PERIOD.Jobs in Canada create money for Canada and Canadians.
commented 2016-10-02 19:01:17 -0400
Geez that picture of nutley…….. did she just blow Roy Layola or did Shannon Phillips shove a pickle up her ass.
commented 2016-10-02 01:53:05 -0400
David D…

Just to be clear.. the government invents then creates and then maintains and enforces the business environment that private companies must adhere to while trying to maintain a profit margin, unlike the provincial trade unions that get preferential treatment from the Notleyadministration..
The money that private interest paid to the government in other circles would be called extortion.
yes… Alberta has some of the most expensive oil to extract which is all the more reason that our present provincial administration should be happy collecting taxes off the employees revenue and having all those people working spending money supporting the province and maybe leaving the producer alone instead of strangling the goose that’s trying to lay a golden egg..
Rachel Notley’s administration is certainly serving another master because nothing she is doing is good for the province or the people of this province and ultimately the country as Alberta was the economic engine of Canada.
commented 2016-10-01 22:09:11 -0400
The government doesn’t care how many jobs they kill in the private sector. The private sector are the enemy to them. Once you understand that, everything they do makes sense.
commented 2016-10-01 17:27:51 -0400
You can thank the (teachers-nurses government workers)for your communist N.D.P. government.
commented 2016-10-01 13:41:50 -0400
I understand what you are putting forth David D. but I still say it’s horse sht. There were oil and gas companies more than willing to invest in Alberta until Notley started playing fast and loose with the regulation and royalty game. These companies understand the cyclical nature of the industry and far from stopping and pulling out they set up hire and explore in readiness for the return of prices. As many have mentioned repeatedly, these companies can still make money at low market prices IF the government stays out of the way. Notely and Christie for that matter are enabling native and foreign interference on top of it all. So the result is company pull out with no reentry until Notley is out of Alberta and a Conservative government friendly to resource extraction is voted back in.
Your ignorant pious ill informed criticism is nauseating. An example of stupid as a stick academia? David, how many years were you a professional student? Real life experience is invaluable.
If the government hadn’t fked them over in the first place they wouldn’t be in this predicament and could have ridden out the fluctuation.
commented 2016-10-01 00:56:17 -0400
I meant to say blame the government for their poor planning.
commented 2016-10-01 00:52:36 -0400
It is a simple matter that Alberta has some of the expensive oil in the world to produce, plus there are market access issues. In a world of low prices this is not competitive. It should go out of business.

For example, if “supermarket A” that is far away has produce that is more expensive because their margins are lower, and there is a closer, more accessible “supermarket B” that can still make money even when prices are low because their operating costs are lower, would you demand the government fund the “supermarket A” so their cashiers can keep their job? Maybe supermarket A is just stupid because they couldn’t diversify or find a sustainable way to make money in a changing market, and they should go out of business.

Again I don’t understand why all these people whine for the government to help. It is common knowledge that natural resources are subject to market conditions and can go up and down. Do people save and take advantage of the good times? No. Instead they spend all their money, while deriding anyone who is disadvantaged while times are good, then when they are laid off and in desperate situations with no savings wondering what happened they are the first to whine to the government for help, or blame the government for poor planning.
commented 2016-10-01 00:16:47 -0400
That is self righteous horse shite David D. There is no riding this one out…( insert bad name here). Companies have made money at low oil prices before, it’s Notely and Trudeau’s interference that killed it. No oil and Gas company in it’s right mind would invest in Alberta with Notely in there. It is expensive to live up north and I’d like to see you put away enough to carry your mortgage for 4 to 8 years when you can vote out the standing government. Canada’s capitulation with globalist agenda is half the reason we can’t get resources to market. This situation is about as far away from a free market slump as you can get. Can you spell manipulated?
What a putz.
commented 2016-09-30 12:35:05 -0400
Job losses were due to market conditions. If the previous governments were smart about diversifying then there wouldn’t be an issue. There are global forces at work, stop thinking so small Alberta is a tiny part of the world.

Also its funny that all the people that are out of work are whining now about the government not intervening. You want free market capitalism? Well then you should accept that the reality is if you are too stupid to position yourself and make enough money to ride it out then you deserve to be destitute. That is survival of the fittest. All the apparently conservative people jump on board for this mentality, until it doesn’t work in their favour. What a hypocritical joke.
commented 2016-09-30 03:31:59 -0400
Hey Albertans.. Tired or of that warm Notley pee warming your leg each day? Time for FLSUH NOTLEY! signs everywhere and time for the “Via Alberta” from Edmonton to Calgary… Yes?…
commented 2016-09-29 22:33:34 -0400
Good report PAIGE
I hope we can claw back and delete their destroying policies and contracts , this bad dream will affect reality for years to come
commented 2016-09-29 19:49:19 -0400
The Emperor Augustus said “that a good shepherd fleeces his flock, he does not flay them”. Too bad that the current " Emperors" Trudeau, Wynne and, Notley don’t feel the same way.
commented 2016-09-29 19:25:28 -0400
Alberta and the whole of Canada, never give in.

Amidst adversity, great thing await.

Soon the Marxist Scum whom rule our Country and Provinces, will be gone.

Being Canadians we shall carry on.
commented 2016-09-29 19:16:05 -0400
James you are correct it does smell ,Remember Trudope was in China the week before ?
commented 2016-09-29 18:17:38 -0400
Just incredible. She obviously does not care about Albertans. I often wonder where NDPers get their ideas because they do not jive with reality. Bob Rae screwed with Ontario good so I would never vote NDP. Those who do are the uninformed walking dead. Go back to sleep Rachel.
commented 2016-09-29 18:01:31 -0400
I’m on record, I never voted for this Marxist Skank either, nor did I vote for that Globalist Fool on the hill. What matters to the UN, the MSM and the corrupt NDP and liberals, is that they keep the sheep fooled; the dummies that voted for them. They are communists through and through, and are out to destroy our province, and ultimately our country. The Federal twit has sold Canada to the UN globalists. Canada, not just Alberta is going down!
commented 2016-09-29 17:24:20 -0400
Peter Babich. That’s something that really pisses me off! She and so many other ndp ass clowns will vanish never to be heard from again but they’ll all collect huge severances and pensions. They won’t have to worry about looking for work. This after all the damage caused. Fuck!
commented 2016-09-29 16:59:19 -0400
I can’t wait til she’s unemployed. She won’t suffer of course because she’ll take a huge severance and pension for life
commented 2016-09-29 16:47:48 -0400
Notely says yesterday when the Liberals hurried up an announcement of the LNG project in BC. “The federal government found the right balance”. How the he— does she know? Like she took the time to read through all 190 conditions? Notley really doesn’t have a clue.

BTW. A bit off topic::
The LNG project? Something smells. Did Petronas read the Liberals the riot act for dicking around about pipelines? It was almost nighttime next to the Fraser River when Katie finally got her rushed photo op ready to shoot. Something is fishy. Trudeau not present? My suspicion: some deal has been hatched or the giant LNG Malaysian Co. (possibly) indicated to Trudeau they were ready to pull the plug because they couldn’t wait any longer.
commented 2016-09-29 16:35:45 -0400
I don’t know what will be left in 2019 but when “It” and It’s" ilk are gone and leaving the scene I’ll still pop a bottle of bubbly like I just won the Stanley Cup. Of course I’d do the same thing today or tomorrow should “Breaking News” happen that someone turned “It’s” head into a canoe.
commented 2016-09-29 16:18:02 -0400
Only the rich can escape and the poor are left behind to die a slow and painful death. Thank the stars above that at least I will die knowing that I didn’t vote for this death cult.
commented 2016-09-29 16:01:21 -0400
Notley is soo anti business anti progress she should rebrand her caucus the Luddite party. Hold on Albertans in 2 years and some change, this will all seem like just a bad dream
commented 2016-09-29 15:57:22 -0400
heard this morning support for her great carbon tax has plunged, everything they touch goes to shit. Feedlots closing, 100 000 energy workers out of work, whats next mess with the power system so we pay yet even more. Keith your right we are fucked.
commented 2016-09-29 15:55:53 -0400
It is simple really; all the big tax payers are dropping like flies resulting in dwindling revenues to the government. The solution; increase taxes and regulations on the rest.
commented 2016-09-29 15:20:06 -0400
Alberta is fucked until this piece of shit Notley gets stopped.

Enjoy the ride
commented 2016-09-29 15:15:42 -0400
Coming soon to the rest of Canada by born-with-a-golden-spoon Baby Doc Trudeau.