“Putting Albertan’s back to work” or “Bringing back Alberta Advantage” these are the most common slogans used by almost all the UCP Candidates in Edmonton. Jobs are not created by slogans; good paying stable jobs are created with proper planning at all level of governments, and practical policies that works.
First of all, loud noise and rallies encouraged by conservatives in Alberta and Canada, about job losses are more political pressure tact than about jobs. This is all about bringing back the status quo. The benefactors of Alberta’s oil don’t want to lose their control on our resources, they have made Billions of Dollars from Alberta’s oil and are getting daily subsides of millions of Dollars in different forms. Yes, we have lost, quite large number of direct and indirect jobs related to oil sands (specially in Fort MacMurray, Calgary, Nisku, Red Deer, Edmonton and Lloydminster areas), all due to low oil prices in the international market and subsidies given to our buyers (single market).
Conservative government of Alberta in the past has been relying too much on single source of economy, the energy sector. The job market was at its peak when the oil price in the international market was around $100 a barrel. This was all due to number of construction projects at Fort MacMurray during 2006 – 2008. After the completion of these projects unemployment rate started rising. As can be seen in the table below. Reliance on oil sands with single market was lack of vision on part of our leaders and shortsightedness of previous provincial governments.
The blow to Alberta’s economy would have been less painful if we had our pipelines built to East and West Coasts. We needed the pipelines eight years ago, but its never too late to build the pipeline. Even with the pipeline to West Coast TMX built today, or in near future, still we will not be able to reduce unemployment rate in Alberta to the same level as of 2006, 2007 or 2008. To reduce unemployment rate, we have to diversify our economy.
UCP policy of reducing Corporate Tax is not going to work either, instead it will increase the provincial deficit. To reduce deficit, large number of public sector employees will lose their jobs, resulting in increased unemployment rate. This scenario/logic was adopted during 1993, 1994 to reduce budget deficit by massive layoffs in the public sector at the start of so-called Alberta Advantage.
To create good paying stable jobs, we need to diversify our economy. One way to do, is by creating business friendly policies with proper planning/incentives with “SMART GOALS” for investors. We all know that investors pay business or corporate taxes only on their profits, so cutting Corporate Tax is not going to work until they make money. The other is by government investments in areas which will grow and create stable high paying jobs.
Alberta has great potential and resources to diversify its economy and create good paying jobs. Alberta’s politicians need to have a common vision for future of our great province. Albertan’s need short term and long-term policy for job creation and retention. University of Alberta and University of Calgary can use investment in research & development to create, and develop new products/technologies. New products developed by UOA and UOC will create new business opportunities as well as job of the future.
Incentives for investment in value added products i.e. agro-industry and petroleum by-product can create new long-term jobs too. Refining crude oil/bitumen here in Alberta can stabilize and even lower the gas price at the pump. Tax free zone for export purposes related to oil and gas manufacturing and servicing is another avenue that can be promoted globally. Investment in renewable energy resources, Artificial intelligence and data mining can employ hundred and thousands of Albertans.
We have to swallow a bitter pill of our pride for the future of Albertan’s now, and plan properly by setting Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-bound goals. Ignoring time tested logic and common phrases in financial world “diversify your portfolio” and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” will have consequences.
Remember “Putting Albertan’s back to work” or “Bringing back Alberta Advantage” are hollow slogans only, jobs are not created by slogans; but by proper planning and well thought practical policies that works.