A few weeks after the latest employment numbers from Statistics Canada revealed Albertans are still struggling to get jobs, a trio of Conservative MPs from the province say they have some ideas on how to get people back to work. One suggestion is for the Trudeau government to shelve its plans for a carbon tax.
On Monday, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, Calgary-Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel and Edmonton-Riverbend MP Matt Jeneroux spoke out about their party’s Alberta Jobs Taskforce Report in response to the employment crisis.
“The federal government is out of its depth in responding to Alberta’s jobs crisis,” Ambrose said. “I mandated two outstanding members of the Conservative Alberta Caucus to reach out to workers, business owners and everyday Albertans to find the best ideas to help get Alberta working again.”
The Conservatives said the report is the result of MPs meeting with thousands of Albertans to hear how the economic crisis – precipitated by the collapse of oil prices in 2014 – has impacted them.
“Everyday Albertans, this was their message to the prime minister, to the finance minister, that the carbon tax is not going to help Albertans,” Jeneroux told reporters at a news conference Monday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said provinces will be required to put a price on carbon – either through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system – by 2018, at a minimum of $10 per tonne that will increase to $50 by 2022. Alberta already has a carbon levy in place. The provincial government implemented the controversial tax in January.
Watch below: In October 2016, Vassy Kapelos filed this report about the Trudeau government’s decision to introduce a carbon pricing plan.
“What they’re moving forward with is punitive,” Ambrose said. “It’s going to hurt regular working people and families that need to fill up their gas tanks to get to work, to get to hockey, to get to skating.
“At the end of the day, they’ve (Liberals) given us no real substantive evidence that this is going to do anything for the environment.”
Chris Mauthey, the CEO of Argus Machine – a machining and engineering company in the Edmonton area – said his company has already had to lay off 150 workers since oil prices collapsed and the carbon tax would be an expensive cost.
“What we’re anticipating for the 2017 calendar year is approximately $60,000 in increased costs,” he said.
“We need to be competitive and our competitors come from various regions of the world where, if they’re not hit with that same tax, it puts us at a disadvantage.”
Watch below: On Jan. 1, 2017, Julia Wong filed this report about the Alberta government’s carbon levy taking effect.
The report cites 11 areas in which the Conservatives say the federal government could take steps to help out-of-work Albertans get back on their feet.
In addition to scrapping carbon tax plans, the trio also proposes slashing corporate and small business taxes, and “reducing the regulatory burden and bureaucratic red-tape on natural resources projects.”
“Alberta is facing a serious job crisis,” Rempel said in a statement. “Every Albertan has been affected, with little concern expressed from the federal government.”
“It is the implementation of the recommendations presented in this report that will help Albertans get back to work,” Jeneroux said.
“I would recommend the (Alberta) NDP also take a look.”
-with files from Tom Vernon and Andrew Russell