MLA Mark Smith: COVID-19’s financial impact on Alberta

I won’t sugar coat it, Alberta has been hit hard by Covid-19, our provincial government has faced a 23 per cent drop in revenue, provincial debt is closing in around $100 billion and we are facing a deficit of $25 billion dollars. Despite all this though, our government is working hard during this time of economic peril and adversity. Alberta’s government has made a commitment to create jobs, protect livelihoods, and investment in core infrastructure and social services that get people back to work. It is also critical that we renew confidence in our world-renowned entrepreneurial spirit and industry. However, Alberta’s Recovery Plan is more than a blueprint for jobs – it is an investment toward our communities, families and working parents that put our province on a path for prosperity.

A more prosperous Alberta includes affordable, high-quality, and flexible child care without raising parent fees, and maintains our commitment to safety, especially for our most vulnerable. COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges to our centres, such as low enrolment and staffing, which has led to significant financial hurdles and closures. With financing of each licensed space ($109) already allocated for September, we are proud to announce that in October and again in November, all child care centres, daycares, out-of-school care centres and preschools will receive $200 per licensed space and $2500 per centre. In addition to the nearly $400 million that the Government of Alberta spends every year on subsidy for low and middle-income parents, wage top-ups and professional development for workers and safety enforcement through licensing, $87 million in funding from the provincial and federal governments will keep more 18,000 Albertans employed in child care.

As we navigate the challenges ahead, we are also proud to invest up to $1.9-billion from our Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund. Funded by large industry, latest investments will support a host of programs that create 3,400 jobs on their own and up to 8,700 indirect jobs, while also reducing industry emissions by about 300,000 tonnes of carbon per year. The local ingenuity and innovation demonstrated through our carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies truly exemplifies the world leading environmental record in our province.

Home to a well-established oil and gas and mining sector, Alberta already has a skilled workforce with experience in resource development, a well-defined and stringent regulatory system, and the necessary infrastructure in place to support an expanded and growing minerals sector. That includes unlocking Alberta’s vast, untapped geological potential for lithium, vanadium, uranium, rare earth elements, diamonds, and potash that are increasing in global demand. In 2019, Canada’s total mineral production value reached $48-billion, with Alberta, a key contributor. Amidst our geological potential for non-energy minerals, a new mineral strategy with the five-member Mineral Advisory Council places Alberta at the cutting edge of critical mineral exploration and development. Doing so will encourage investment and create jobs for Albertans, supporting our long-term economic recovery.

— MLA Mark Smith