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December 4 2020

Calgary Chamber submission for Alberta's spring 2021 budget

Dear Minister Toews,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a written submission to the Ministry of Finance regarding Budget 2021, and for your consideration of our recommendations.

The Calgary Chamber is the voice of the Calgary business community, and our submission is based on what we have heard at our industry roundtables and ongoing feedback we received through continued engagement with our members and stakeholders.

Over the past several months, the Calgary business community, despite being no stranger to hardship, has faced unprecedented challenges. Our province continues to demonstrate grit, resiliency, and determination, coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit and deep-seated commitment to innovation. But, in times of sustained hardship, we need government support to ensure that both our businesses and the citizens they employ emerge stronger. With crisis comes opportunity, and we must use this moment to springboard to a more resilient and sustainable future.

In preparing Budget 2021, we recommend that the Government of Alberta consider the following recommendations to provide certainty, create a climate of growth and optimism in our province, and to position Alberta for a future to emerge stronger than before from the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we’d ask the Government to: (1) focus on providing short-term financial support and long-term fiscal stability, (2) diversify our industries, revenue sources, and collective skillset, (3) prioritize an inclusive recovery for all Albertans, (4) invest in our competitiveness, and (5) support trade and market access. Our submission expands on each of these recommendations.

Thank you in advance for your consideration and we look forward to working with you to realize a sustainable and prosperous future for all Albertans.


Our submission to the Government of Alberta’s Budget 2021 consultations reflects work with members, experts, and stakeholders to understand the opportunities and challenges facing Calgary’s business community. It puts forth our recommendations on how we believe the government can support a sustainable and prosperous future for all Albertans today and in the years to come.

To realize a sustainable and prosperous future for all Albertans, we recommend Budget 2021 be developed, and that the policies below be viewed, through the following lens:

  1. Prioritizing fiscal responsibility and a return to balance over the long-term.
  2. Enabling certainty and stability for businesses and all the people that work in them.
  3. Facilitating inclusive growth and expanding our economy by bringing more people to the table, particularly historically marginalized and underrepresented groups. Vibrant communities lead to vibrant businesses, which means social issues cannot be separated from economic issues.
  4. Encouraging collaboration between all orders of government and leveraging the tools each level of government has to support our economy.

Our recommendations

Support business in the short-term and fiscal sustainability in the long-term

Businesses continue to face significant challenges, and most continue to feel the impact of the pandemic each day. In the short-term, Alberta businesses will continue to need support through the COVID-19 pandemic. In the long-term, economic diversification and job creation will be required to rebuild resiliency in our economy and ensure fiscal sustainability. A critical focus on fiscal responsibility should be maintained throughout the budget planning process.

1. Provide direct financial support to businesses to ensure they can survive during necessary COVID-19 restrictions and emerge stronger than before.

2. After helping businesses get through this challenging time, focus on long-term sustainability and a plan to balance.

3. Develop information and public communications strategies that focus on providing certainty for Alberta businesses.

Diversify, diversify, diversify

With an entrepreneurial spirit, access to immense natural and human resources, and the most educated population in Canada, Alberta is well-positioned to thrive in areas we have succeeded in traditionally, as well as in new areas that will allow us to diversify our industries, sources of revenue, and collective skill set.

With a K-shaped recovery, Alberta must support struggling sectors, while also helping emerging sectors use this as a springboard to maximize their growth at an opportune time.

1. Diversify our industries within and outside of our traditional sectors of strength.

2. Alberta must diversify our sources of revenue to ensure fiscal stability for generations to come.

3. Diversify our collective skill set.

Invest in our competitiveness

As a trade-exposed province, we must be able to compete. This is driven by creating a cost-competitive environment, avoiding red tape and duplicative regulation, and providing certainty for business. Our competitiveness is also supported by our ability to attract capital and top talent, and lead innovation in emerging areas such as the low-carbon economy.

1. Reduce the regulatory burden and provide certainty for businesses

2. Continue promoting and investing in Alberta’s position as a leader in the lower-carbon economy.

3. Invest in Calgary’s vibrancy to help attract and retain top talent.

Support trade and market access

Access to markets, internationally and within our borders, is a necessity for growth for businesses across the country no matter their size. We have seen this directly with our energy industry, however barriers to market access impact almost all sectors in Alberta, as many rely on our trade-exposed sectors. Interprovincial trade barriers limit the growth for businesses in our country geographically, often forcing small to medium sized business owners to operate in smaller and more saturated markets.

1. Continue to be a leader in aggressively dismantling barriers to interprovincial trade and strengthen supply chains to boost our local economies and tap into secure markets. This also enables business to contribute to our economic recovery, complementing costly government economic stimulus packages.

2. Facilitate international market access

3. Support and invest in Alberta's low carbon technologies. Alberta businesses have invested in sustainable technologies, and as the world shifts to a lower-carbon economy, Alberta should leverage our innovation and find export opportunities in new markets.

Build an inclusive recovery for all Albertans

For our fiscal future to be sustainable long-term, we must invest in our communities, social services, and facilitate inclusive growth. Failure to invest in our communities will lead to long-term economic costs, which will be borne by the provincial budget. Inclusive growth is about enlarging the size of the economy through productive employment to allow the benefits of growth to be realized for all citizens, with a particular focus on historically excluded groups. Through the inclusion of more people, with diverse skillsets and backgrounds, Alberta can accelerate its economic recovery, increase economic opportunity, and ‘grow the pie’ for all of us.

1. Support our economic recovery by enlarging the size of our economy by adding more seats to the table, with a particular focus on those who have historically been excluded.

2. Prioritize the health of Albertans, particularly in terms of mental health support.

In closing

We face a long and difficult road that will demand both an ongoing pandemic response, and our economic recovery. The decisions the Government of Alberta makes for Budget 2021 provide an opportunity to chart a path forward towards a more robust, stable, and inclusive economy. Our future can be one where Alberta has the talent and skills for the economy of tomorrow, and where we can trade and export our products here at home and around the world. A future where Alberta has an economy that includes all of us, and where we remain the energy leader of the world as we transition to the low-carbon economy of the future. Alberta can have a future where we continue to diversify its economy, and further showcase why our province is a destination to visit and live. In all of this, we can also secure our fiscal future for the generations that follow us.