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Politics

Struggling oil and gas industry to blame for cuts, closures at Edmonton truck dealership, president says

WATCH ABOVE: Big changes are coming to an Alberta business thanks to a tough economy. As Julia Wong reports, the company's president is pointing the finger at two levels of government.

Changes will soon be on the way for a business that has been in Edmonton for 35 years.

Edmonton Kenworth, a truck dealership with six locations in the city, will be cutting jobs and restructuring, and the company’s president said it is due to the struggling oil and gas industry.

READ MORE: Alberta allows producers to drill new conventional oil wells without production limits

President Gary King said business has been rough.

“We’re used, in essence, to doing double the volume we’ve been doing over the last five years,” he said.

The exterior of the Leduc location of Edmonton Kenworth.
The exterior of the Leduc location of Edmonton Kenworth. Wes Rosa/Global News

King said the company is dependent on oil and gas, and he is blaming two levels of government for the struggles: the former NDP leadership in Alberta and the federal Liberals.

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“When income tax is raised both personally and corporately, a carbon tax is implemented, none of that is going on in the U.S.,” he said.

“Money moves and the money has left Western Canada.”

King said he had been hoping for a different outcome in the federal election last month and is discouraged the Liberals were re-elected.

“Having a minority government with the Greens there, the NDP there, all three of them have actively campaigned against the Alberta oilsands and Alberta. That’s not a good outcome for Alberta. I think most people would agree the investment has left Alberta,” he said.

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King said the company has to react; it is shuttering two locations in east Edmonton and consolidating its operations in Leduc and west Edmonton.

There will also be layoffs, which could include service technicians, employees who work in the parts department and management. The company currently has 390 employees.

Exact numbers haven’t been worked out but King expects them to be finalized within 14 days.

READ MORE: Canadian oil and gas drilling activity expected to fall by 10 per cent in 2020

Alberta’s Economic Development Minister Tanya Fir said news of the changes at Edmonton Kenworth is “upsetting.”

“This is not good news. It shows there’s still work to be done to get our economy back on track,” she said.

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Fir touts the UCP government’s job creation tax cut, initiative to cut red tape and removal of the carbon tax as ways to bring back jobs and investment back to Alberta, but she admits it isn’t an overnight fix.

“We’re hoping that, as the effects of the job creation tax cuts start to take hold and with the rollout of our investment growth strategy, that we’re going to start to see those positive changes on the horizon very soon,” she said.