The election is over and the new government has now been sworn into office, the Speech from the Throne has been delivered by the Honourable Lieutenant-Governor Lois Mitchel and we are now just into the very early days of the Legislature. The various ministry offices are now up and running and legislation is starting to be introduced into the Legislature.
The United Conservative Party ran on a platform of killing the Carbon Tax and Bill 1: An Act to Repeal the Carbon Tax was introduced into the Legislature. This act will repeal the Climate Leadership Act eliminating the Alberta carbon tax effective 12:01 on May 30th, 2019.
Bill 2: The Open for Business Act will address some of the policies passed by the previous NDP government that have had the effect of killing jobs in Alberta. It will maintain new rules for compassionate leave and restore mandatory secret ballots for union certification votes. It will also end the practice of forcing employers to pay holiday pay to employees who are not working and give employees more freedom and flexibility to bank overtime hours.
One of the problems identified by businesses across Alberta has been the raising of the minimum wage law. I have met with local employers who are very concerned with the impacts that the minimum wage has had on their business. Across Alberta we have seen the average number of employees in the restaurant industry drop from 13 to 11.7 employees between 2015-2018. We have record high youth unemployment at 11.6%. It is critical that youth have the opportunity to gather the needed experience and knowledge that a first job creates. At $15 dollars/hour businesses had to adjust by laying off youth who did not have the necessary skill and experience of an older worker. Bill 2 will create more opportunities for young people to gain necessary skills and experience by encouraging businesses to hire youth at a lower hourly rate.
During the election the United Conservative Party campaigned on rebuilding the economy. Jobs, pipelines and the economy would be the priority of this government. Bill 3: The Job Creation Tax Cut will move Alberta forward on this promise by lowering corporate tax rates over a period of years from 12% to 8%. This will entice capital back in to Alberta and will, according to economist Jack Mintz, create 55,000 jobs over the next few years. By 2022 Alberta’s combined federal-provincial business tax rate will lower than that of 44 U.S. states and will be one piece of the economic puzzle that will result in a competitive Alberta economy capable of affording the social programs that all Albertans desire.
These are just the first three bills before the Legislature, they all address key 2019 platform promises made to the people of Alberta. Promise made – promise kept.
Mark Smith is MLA for the Drayton Valley-Devon constituency and writes a regular column for The Pipestone Flyer.