Duncan Kenyon, Regional Director at the Pembina Institute says the Alberta budget released by the Kenney government is a “missed opportunity” to position the province as a competitive energy leader in a changing world economy.
The Alberta budget was tabled by the United Conservative Party on Thursday. There were some funding increases for courts, social services and mental health services but the big takeaway from the 2019 budget is the $4.5 billion tax break for corporations over the coming four years.
“This budget does not reflect a strategy for a growing and diversified economy that attracts jobs and investment in new sectors for the province,” said Kenyon.
Kenyon says changing technology, economics and action on climate are shifting the globe to cheaper and cleaner energy options. Instead of boosting the flagging Alberta oil industry, Kenyon says to create jobs, the Kenney government should invest in economic diversification.
As well, Kenyon says the UCP government needs to send “long-term signals that will attract investment in new sectors, not just oil and gas.”
“While it is encouraging to see the government increase funding for orphan well abandonment, and maintain funding for technology and innovation, what’s missing is a deliberate effort to invest in the new economy,” said Kenyon.
“Funding cuts to energy efficiency programs, Indigenous climate action and clean energy programs reflect a lack of commitment to diversify Alberta’s economy.”
Kenyon argues that while the Kenney government is betting on technology and innovation to cut industry emissions, it is not offering compelling market signals, such as the kind a strong carbon pricing system would provide.
“For our oil and gas industry to remain competitive, profound shifts in the industry are urgently needed.”