Earlier this week, Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Finance Travis Toews held a press conference to outline Alberta’s Recovery Plan. Minister Toews began the press conference by outlining a high-level overview of the fiscal ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic such as decreased business activity, energy investment and an estimate of a real effective unemployment rate between 20-25%. The Minister then outlined the programs the government has put in place throughout the COVID-19 pandemic including the $14B in support.
Premier Kenney indicated that at the height of the pandemic, 85 per cent of Alberta businesses representing 96 per cent of the economy continued to operate. He also indicated that we have amongst the lowest rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths per capita in the western world.
Premier Kenney then introduced Alberta’s Recovery Plan, which included input from the Economic Recovery Council chaired by economist Dr. Jack Mintz. The government plans on achieving the objectives of the Recovery Plan through:
- The largest infrastructure build in Alberta’s history with $10B dollar in projects, a 40 per cent increase over what has been budgeted in the 2020-21 capital plan;
- Immediately accelerate the Job Creation Tax Cut moving the general business tax cut from 10 per cent to 8 per cent on July 1, 2020 – the province estimates of 55,000 new full-time jobs and stimulate $13B in economic growth;
- Launch the Innovation Employment Grant in an effort to replace previously cancelled tax credits with more details to come within the next week;
- Investing $175M into the Alberta Enterprise Corporation to expand access to capital for early stage start-up companies;
- Creating Invest Alberta that will lead a worldwide campaign to attract job creating investment while encouraging investment in the energy sector by communicating and defending the environmental, social and governance standards across the sector;
- Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to encourage employers to hire Albertans first;
- Reducing the targeted admissions under that Alberta Immigration Nominee Program by at least one third;
- Implementing sector-specific strategies for agriculture, forestry, tourism, technology and innovation, aviation, finance and fintech and creative industries;
- Creating a Cultural Event Relaunch Program to assist the arts that have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Amendments the Alberta Labour Relations Code to further cut red tape. Minister Travis Towes committed to giving a more fulsome and frank fiscal update by the end of summer, but did indicate that he suspects there is a chance of a credit downgrade given the financial ramifications of the pandemic. Premier Kenney indicated that Minister of Immigration and Labour, Jason Copping, will give details on the immigration plan within the coming weeks.
Given that Alberta is experiencing the worst job crisis since the great depression in the 1930s the plan was established to create jobs, spur investment, support the current economy and diversify. The government is working to invest in areas that will bring more long-term growth to the province and increase the province’s competitiveness long-term.
Schedule of the Legislature
The Summer session of the 30th Legislature is on break, where MLAs will return to their ridings from June 25 to July 6. The session is planned to conclude in late July.