NDP Leader Rachel Notley was in Lethbridge on Thursday speaking to members of the local business community about diversifying Alberta’s economy.
The Opposition leader said she believes it’s an important step to take for the post-pandemic recovery.
“All Albertans I think are excited by what we see happening with the price of oil,” Notley said. “But by now I think we’ve all learned that what’s happening today shouldn’t be used to predict what will happen tomorrow.”
She said her party want to see the province invest in small businesses.
Notley said she wants to bring back multiple incentives to invest in non-traditional sectors, including the Digital Media Tax Credit and the Alberta Investment Tax Credit (AITC).
“(It’s a) really important way to help the little guy,” she said.
“Those employers who have fewer than 100 employees (and) who have 80 per cent of their assets here in Alberta, those folks need help to find investor partners, and that’s what was happening through the AITC.”
According to Notley, the NDP plans to make the AITC permanent if her part forms government in the next provincial election.
When it comes to moving on from COVID-19, there’s hope the worst is behind local businesses.
“There’s cautious optimism,” said Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce CEO Cyndi Bester.
While the economic climate is improving, businesses want more balance after what has been a tumultuous past couple of years.
“We need stability, we need sustainability,” Bester said. “So I think the next six months, the next 12 months, we need to get through a season and see where we’re at.”
But when it comes to improving the long-term outlook of small business in the area, Bester said visits like the one from Notley on Thursday are important.
“(We) get that different perspective of the other side of the house,” Bester said.
“We need to know, as the voice of business when we’re developing policy and advocacy, some of our points and where we need to go and where we need to develop it.”