Premier Notley believes that Alberta’s economic recovery is well underway. That, “As things continue to look up, we have another sign more Albertans are beginning to feel the recovery…”
Here are some statistics from the October Statscan report that help to paint a little more realistic picture of the Alberta economy.
• Total unemployment: 184,200 (45,000 more than Apr 2015, 32 per cent increase)
• Employment rate is at 67.0 per cent (down from 69.2 per cent in April 2015)
• Highest unemployment rate outside of Atlantic Canada.
• Unemployment rate has been increasing since May, May: 6.2 – October: 7.3
Many in the “brain trust” of the NDP believe Albertans will only be able to balance the government budget and fund their reckless spending habits is by taxing Albertans. It is clear to all Albertans that accumulating debt and increasing taxes is not the way to prosperity. There is another way, as Alberta’s debt closes in on $50 billion dollars we can choose a path that controls government spending and at the same time grows the economy.
A stand firm position on spending and the use of attrition in the civil service would help to down size the government without affecting frontline services. Reducing red tape in the government by creating a Ministry of Red Tape Reduction, as has been done in provinces like BC, would help make government more efficient and free business of unreasonable regulations that hamper the creation of jobs and wealth.
For example, under the present government school boards across Alberta must now provide a monthly report to Alberta Education forcing them to hire additional administrative staff. This requirement cost every school division many hours each month to provide the government with little useful data. It was money that could have been used for a teacher or an educational aid but instead was eaten up by bureaucratic overreach.
Economists are telling us that if Albertans control government spending and if we can grow the economy by around 3 per cent a year that we can attain a balanced budget within the next election cycle without any cuts to front line services. The key to growth will be bringing back the Alberta Advantage of low taxes, a reduced and efficient regulatory process and a government that wants to work with business rather than sending negative economic signals that will impair economic growth. It will start by making it clear to Canadians that confederation must work for all of its citizens and that land-locking Alberta’s oil resources is going to have to be replaced by the rule of law and a regulatory process that will not unnecessarily impede access to tidewater.
The premier would like us to believe that the Alberta economy and her creation of $50 billion in debt and year after year of deficits is the best way forward for Albertans. Albertans are a practical, entrepreneurial people. Albertans recognize that the bill for the present government’s red ink recovery will come due.
Albertans understand that debt can hurt an economy and can stifle a government from being able to truly provide a safe and caring society. Albertans take care of business so that government can help those that can’t take of themselves. This will start by electing a government that is going to move down a responsible economic path.
Mark Smith is MLA for the Drayton Valley-Devon constituency and writes a regular column for The Pipestone Flyer.