March 22nd, 2020
Letter to Minister O'Regan
Regarding support for Alberta
March 22, 2020
Dear Honourable Minister O’Regan,
We write to you today following reports of an upcoming announcement on the Canadian government’s plan to support Albertans affected by the combined impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented drop in oil and gas prices. We are pleased that the government recognizes the profound impacts these ongoing events are having and will continue to have on Alberta energy sector workers and the economy in Alberta and across Canada. New Democrats will always work to ensure workers and their families in Alberta are protected and supported and we look forward to working with you to ensure that all programming and funding supports go directly to benefit Albertan workers and not as subsidies to shareholders or CEO bonuses.
As a party that has always supported Canadian workers, we strongly urge you and the Government of Canada to implement a strong stimulus and support package that takes into account those particular items New Democrats have been asking for many years.
- Protection of jobs and support for workers must be at the centre of any stimulus or support package. Subsidies and tax cuts directed to the oil and gas sector by the Alberta Government in 2019 did nothing for Alberta workers and their families. Instead, wealthy corporations and their shareholders, most of whom are not Canadian, benefitted directly. As we have outlined before, it is vital that any support coming from the federal government be focused on helping and building a strong future for the everyday working Albertans and the communities that are struggling.
- Simply purchasing shares in oil and gas companies will not be effective in protecting workers and their families, and it will not help create a sustainable future for them. History has shown that trickle-down economics only works for the wealthy and does nothing to make life easier or more affordable for everyday Canadians. Governments must invest in the future and in people, not corporations and CEOs.
We are encouraged to see that one of the initiatives the government is considering is to employ energy workers in the clean up of orphan wells. This is an initiative that the NDP has been calling on for years. However, we would like to stress that this initiative should be used to support the clean up of orphan wells, not the subsidizing of companies who are not meeting their obligations to ensure infrastructure is responsibly managed. If done right, this initiative alone could quickly create transferable jobs for workers, clean up the environmental hazards these wells represent, and build for the future by investing in geothermal technologies.
- Any stimulus money intended to strengthen and diversify the Alberta economy, must come with strings that direct the funds to help workers first, instead filling the pockets of CEOs.
- Energy conservation and retrofitting support for infrastructure development including transit, and grants to support research, development, and technology transfer and seed and bridge funding must be part of any successful plan.
- Our post-secondary institutions have expertise in several areas that, if federally supported, would help ensure a more diverse economy in Alberta. This includes artificial intelligence, smart construction and transportation technologies, agriculture, food, and biotechnology and nanotechnology.
These calls are not new to our caucus or our party. They are part of a plan that we have laid out to help build a future where families have good secure jobs in a sustainable economy with more opportunities for workers, not less.
As you know, Albertans have contributed significantly to the economy of Canada. In this moment of potential economic collapse, we stand with Albertan workers and look forward to working with you on a stimulus plan that puts them at the centre and provides them with the helping hand they need as well a path forward to a strong and more sustainable future. The work we do here will benefit all Canadians.
We look forward to working with you on this important initiative.
Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona