Amidst what the Province of Alberta has deemed the Triple Threat, Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Finance & President of Treasure Travis Toews rolled out Alberta’s Recovery Plan today, with a clear message of attracting business and getting Albertans back to work.
Minister Toews began today’s announcement with a roller coaster of financial statistics resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the hit on our energy industry, and global economic contraction. Toews doubled down on his commitment to efficient and responsible fiscal management but was forthright that the triple threat has taken the province off-course to balance the budget by the end of this term. Uncharacteristic of Toews, he noted household necessity to borrow from time to time, citing good debt and bad debt and saying the province will need to borrow further to ensure Alberta’s economic future.
Early in the COVID-19 crisis, Premier Kenney struck an Economic Recovery Council, with lauded economist, Dr. Jack Mintz, President’s Fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy at the helm. Other Alberta business leaders, including the Right Honourable Stephen Harper have collaborated on the best possible scenarios for Alberta’s financial future. Kenney’s announcement today was presented as a strategy built with the Economic Recovery Council, though it looks close to the UCP election platform, reflecting hands-on pragmatism of the Kenney government.
The platform has been the playbook for UCP policy, and even in light of great global uncertainty, today’s press conference didn’t stray far from that. Today’s announcement was akin to K-Tel’s greatest hits series – compiling the list of funding supports since the triple threat brought our province to its knees.
Premier Kenney sees the plan as the best way forward saying otherwise the province’s future is at great risk. The air of pragmatism from the Premier and Minister Toews shouldn’t be lost on Albertans and those watching from the outside. The practicality of “build, create, and diversify jobs” indicates a clear, common sense direction the government will take in the coming months.
Net new today is the government’s plan to prioritize economic development and lay the groundwork to welcome investment opportunities in Alberta. In the name of not just talking about diversification, but actually walking the walk, there are a number of sectors to be targeted, including:
Agriculture & Forestry
Fintech & Finance
Aviation, Aerospace & Logistics
Lack of global economic certainty will challenge the plan and its outcomes going forward, but choosing pragmatism over ideology, clearly communicating the actions to be taken and showing commitment to making the best of the short term, while building a new foundation for the long term will instill confidence for business, investors and everyday Albertans. The range of the plan is well thought out, with details still to come. What is clear is this is a detour from previous fiscal commitments; however, they are deliberately taken, and still in line with the principles we’ve come to expect from the UCP government.
Premier Kenney and Minister Toews each spoke of commonsense steps required to support province’s economy today or risking Alberta falling back further still to a place from which we may never recover. The announcement included the creation of a Global Investment Attraction Agency, and the further expansion of venture capital funding and support. With many diverse sectors identified, today’s announcement was unabashedly an Alberta first message.
For the UCP, jobs and economy come first, with cuts and deficit reduction now further down the road. In the face of the triple threat, both Kenney and Toews have had a change of heart in the past months, deciding that now is the time to borrow against the house. From there, those dollars go to a significant capital infrastructure spend, sparking some much-needed economic growth and investing in the province’s future.
There is no crystal ball, but there is a roadmap. The UCP have clearly laid out for their plan for jobs, pipelines and the economy. Today’s language was build, diversify and create jobs. We can consider those interchangeable. Much of the insight into how the plan rolls out will come from details announced by each individual minister in the coming weeks.
Please find the full documents here:
Authored by: Jessica Conlin, Natalie Sigalet, Darren Cunningham, Tim Moro