By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on December 22, 2017.
Results show NDP government’s plan for province is working
The depth of winter is a great time for good news, and happily for us, Alberta has plenty to share!
Our plan is working; our economy is looking up. The Conference Board of Canada is projecting a 6.7 per cent increase in GDP this year. That’s not just high, that’s phenomenally high. ATB Financial is projecting our GDP growth rate as the highest across Canadian provinces. Alberta isn’t just recovering from the recession, we are thriving.
Let’s talk jobs. With the energy sector rebounding, there were 50,900 job openings in the second quarter of 2017. That’s 8,500 more than the same period last year. Our unemployment rate is the lowest in nearly two years. CBC is reporting 33,900 unfilled jobs in Alberta. Construction companies in particular are having a hard time hiring enough people to keep up. We are seeing more and more signs that our economy is strong and getting stronger.
Big companies have made massive investments in Alberta this year. Retail sales have surpassed the pre-recession peak. Housing starts are up. Vehicle sales are revved up. On the key measures of our economy, Alberta is seeing significant improvements.
Our new Alberta economy is going to be different from the old one in two key ways: it will be more diverse and more environmentally sustainable. Together, these factors mean that our economy will be more resistant to the vagaries of oil prices.
At the beginning of December, I introduced our government’s new Carbon Competitiveness Incentives plan, which will attract investment in clean technology, create new jobs, protect the jobs we already have, diversify the economy, and reduce carbon pollution. These incentives will help Alberta companies stay competitive in global markets, while also reducing emissions. It is possible to make policies that help business and the environment, but it takes extensive consultation with industry and climate experts. We did that, and we will continue to work with these groups as we modernize Alberta’s economy.
The economic recovery hasn’t caught up to everyone yet, and there is still a lot to do to make sure that we all benefit from our province’s growth.
One way we are making life better for Albertans is through strengthening consumer protections, which protect shoppers’ pocketbooks and help businesses succeed. If you have ever gotten frustrated because bots snatched up all the tickets to a concert you wanted to attend, had a contract changed behind your back, or borrowed money only to find the terms weren’t what you thought you had agreed to, you might be interested in the new A Better Deal for Consumers and Businesses Act. We are introducing new rules that will support honest relationships between consumers and businesses, protect the reputation of honest businesses, and focus investigations on the small number of bad actors who exist. We will also be able to release information about companies that have been convicted of offences under this act, ensuring consumers can make informed decisions and support the many honest businesses in our community.
And with that I wish you a happy holiday season. I can’t wait to go see the incredible lights at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden. The Winter Lights Festival is even brighter than last year, and runs on select days through to the end of January. If you are looking for something fun to do in between Christmas and New Year’s, you might want to check out the 2017 Alberta Junior Curling Championships being held at the ATB Centre. Opening ceremony is Thursday, Dec. 27 at 4 p.m., and some great curling is sure to follow. And don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Food and Beverage Expo on Jan. 13!
My constituency office will be closed from Dec. 25 to Jan. 1 inclusive. We will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 2. In the meanwhile, you can call us at 403-329-4644, or email us at email@example.com. See you in 2018!
Shannon Phillips is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge West. Her column appears monthly.
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