Alberta’s new government outlines plan to deliver on election promises
June 4, 2019
On April 16th voters in Alberta elected a United Conservative Party (UCP) majority government. It appears the UCP’s focus on the economy throughout the campaign struck close to home for many, given the economic struggles that Alberta has faced in recent years. In the throne speech, the newly formed government reinforced their commitment to the clear mandate given to the party by the voters.
Spring legislative session
The Speech from the Throne outlined three areas of focus for the UCP government: job creation and economic diversity, increased control of Alberta’s natural resources, and quality as well as effectiveness of public services provided by the province. In addition to the general focus, the government laid out their legislative plan for this session.
The first bill, the An Act to Repeal the Carbon Tax, was tabled immediately after the throne speech and removes the provincial carbon tax put in place by the previous government. Following Bill 1, the current government tabled the Open for Business Act, part of which will amend changes that had previously been made to the employment and labour codes. As announced by Premier Kenney and Minister Copping on May 27th, the bill will be coupled with an order in council introducing a Youth Job Creation Wage that would allow a $13 minimum wage for full-time students aged 13 to 17 starting on June 26th. The bill includes changes to holiday pay, qualifications for statutory holiday pay, overtime pay, and restores mandatory private ballots for all union certifications votes.
The next on the docket was the Job Creation and Tax Cut Act which established a one per cent cut for each of the next four years. The Act will bring the provincial corporate tax rate down from 12 per cent to eight per cent by 2022. The throne speech also announced that this will be followed by Bill 4, the Red Tape Reduction Act, which will cut provincial regulations by one-third.
Also included in the speech was the government’s plans and priorities for the rest of the year. In addition to the provincial budget that will be tabled in the fall and built around recommendations made by the Fiscal Review Panel, there are a number of other items on the government’s agenda that will contribute to a business friendly environment for the province and city. This includes:
- A Tax Statues Amendment Act that would amend the Municipal Government Act and allow municipalities to use property tax incentives to attract investments.
- A Royalties Guarantee Act that would ensure the royalty structure that has been put in place will remain unchanged from the time a well is drilled through its life cycle.
- The Fair Access to Regulated Professions and Trades Act which will modernize the processes of recognizing trades training credentials for newcomers to Alberta.
- Create the Indigenous Opportunities Corporation to facilitate First Nations’ and other Indigenous groups participation in natural resource development and infrastructure projects in Alberta.
- Plans to replace the Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation with the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) Fund aimed at reducing emissions from large industrial emitters and ensure investment in emissions-reducing technologies
- The Farm Freedom and Safety Act that is aimed at “restoring the balance, fairness, and common sense to legislation of Alberta’s agricultural sector”.
The Calgary Chamber worked hard leading up to the 2019 provincial election to put together a comprehensive policy platform with recommendations that would help grow Alberta’s economy. We then joined forces with the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce to advocate that all parties adopt the business forward recommendations that both Chambers outlined in their platforms. We fundamentally believe that businesses drive thriving communities, which is why we will continue working to ensure that business competitiveness remains a focal point of Alberta’s government.
The UCP’s platform, plans outlined in the throne speech, and bills introduced contained many of the recommendations that the Calgary Chamber put forward including, cutting the corporate tax rate, a focus on fiscal responsibility, regulatory reform and red tape reduction, lowering interprovincial trade barriers, working to increase market access, and supporting workforce skill development. It appears that the current government will have a strong focus on ensuring that Alberta is business friendly and the Chamber is committed to continue working with the government to ensure businesses in our city are given every opportunity to grow.
We are encouraged by the campaign commitments in the UCP platform and the actions already taken to help make Calgary a more competitive place for businesses to prosper and grow, which in turn help our city thrive. The Chamber looks forward to working with the next provincial government to ensure that we make Calgary the best place to run and grow a business.