January 25th, 2021

Phillips calls out UCP for handling of economy

By Jensen, Randy on August 29, 2020.

Lethbridge-West MLA and Opposition Finance Critic Shannon Phillips spoke to reporters a day after the province's first quarter report for 2020-21 forecast a deficit of $24.2 billion. Herald file photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips took direct aim at what she called the Kenney government’s “failure of economic leadership” during a “generation-defining crisis” after posting a deficit of $12 billion 2019 which has now ballooned to $24.2 billion post-COVID-19 and following early 2020 oil-price crash.

“That is the largest (deficit) in Alberta history,” said Phillips, speaking to reporters across the province in her capacity Opposition Finance Critic on Friday. “It shows the extent to which our economy and our province have been challenged by the coronavirus crisis, but it also shows the extent to which we have foregone billions in dollars in revenue from that massive ($4.7-billion) tax cut, and the extent to which we have been hurt hard by cancelling diversification programs, and new available jobs to Albertans. And when the price of oil chased that precipitous decline it did in the early part of the 2020 fiscal year -that has really hurt Alberta.”

Phillips said Finance Minister Travis Toews and the UCP government chose to release its 2019 fiscal update so late in 2020 to try to use the cover of COVID-19 and the oil price crash to “pull the wool over the eyes” of the public as to the source of their fiscal predicament.

“In the annual report for 2019, which was supposed to be out some time ago and the government withheld from us, which I can only assume they wanted it to be buried under the coronavirus and collapse in oil price narrative, but we saw in 2019, the first year of this government being in office, is they posted a $12-billion deficit,” she said.

“They tried to blame that on COVID-19, but that doesn’t add up. Before the pandemic, already 50,000 full-time jobs had been lost since the UCP introduced their massive $4.7-billion corporate tax handout. In 2019, what happened when they introduced that $4.7-billion tax handout, the economy contracted by 0.6 per cent, investment fell in our province by five per cent -all of this despite the bold claims to bring back jobs and investment.”

Phillips said the Kenney tax cut has failed to attract new investment and this government has no viable plans to diversify the economy or bring jobs back to Alberta. And has, so far, introduced no incentives for energizing small business in Alberta, she added.

“During my response to the finance minister (on Thursday), I talked about how we need to put that jobs program first, and we need to put people first. What that means broadly is making sure that we have Albertans’ backs in terms of keeping the economy moving.

“We have seen $21 billion flow from Ottawa directly into Albertans’ pockets through the CERB, and through the payroll replacement. That’s the extent to which Albertans needed someone to have their backs, and while I don’t think we need to write them any thank you notes for it because it was the right thing to do, but that void was filled by the federal government. We have seen small businesses, for example, across this province crying for support from this provincial government, and they got a tiny little grant program and a commercial rent relief program a full business quarter after the crisis began.”

Phillips stated it was well beyond the time when the Kenney government should have been talking about a concrete diversification and long-term job creation strategy which puts the good working people at its centre to benefit the entire province, including in her home region of southern Alberta.

“Then,” she explained, “you get a focus for people in Lethbridge on broader industries, on welcoming new investment, on making sure we are leveraging our strengths in innovation and post-secondary, and training in renewables and natural gas, and all those things in southern Alberta in that Lethbridge-Medicine Hat corridor where we have strengths. That is actually what I want to focus on, because that is what people in my constituency, and across southern Alberta, are talking to me about.”

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Southern Albertan

The UCP financial woes could not be described better….wholeheartedly agree. To add now though, it is perhaps, becoming more eminently clear that other forms of revenue need to be considered now that oil and gas has predictably, faded. Again, by all appearances, there still, appears to be plenty of ‘money’ in Alberta, i.e.high end vehicles on the road, new houses, etc., which is fine, but, perhaps if affordability is key here, then, more fair taxation and a PST would also be affordable, for those who can afford it. Those alone would bring in more than $10 billion/year. Other provinces have had to do it, now it’s up to ‘Alberta’ to do it as well. Unfortunately, here is an example of how trickledown economics, which the UCP believes is the savior, does not work. At the time Mark Carney was the Governor of The Bank of Canada, he was chirping at the big corporations to get their money out there because they were just ‘sitting’ on it, some $600 billion at the time. This was because of too low corporate tax rates courtesy of both, the Liberals and the Conservatives. The low corporate tax rates were meant to generate investment, employment, etc, but, it did not happen. To understand the inner workings of corporations, reading an essay by John Kenneth Galbraith, “The Economics of Innocent Fraud,” could be helpful.
After all, by doing fair taxation, and creating a more equal society, while still allowing for individiual wealth, is ‘money in the bank.’ Poverty which begets drug addiction, poor nutrition, poor health, more crime, etc. is very, expensive in the long run. Myself, hailing from a $multimillion corporate farming families background knows, that the benefactors, could well afford to pay a bit more tax without jeopardizing their business.


This is a laughable and hypocritical comment from a person who is an economic illiterate representing a party that only knew how to spend and whine about social irrelevencies .


it is one thing to criticise one party for its financial shortcomings, but quite another to be accepting of the other party’s financial shortcomings. in this case, the ucp’s lack of any realistic answer is woeful. again, zulu demonstrates a undemocratic bias for one party: instead of using one’s option to call out the party for its considerable failures, one chooses instead to overlook the failures because conservative is in its name.


For those who are not informed or who may be confused regarding the role of members of the Official Opposition within the framework of the Westminster Parliamentary system:
“The Opposition is made up of MLAs who aren’t part of the governing party. The role of the Opposition is to critique government activity, propose improvements to legislation, and present itself to the public as an alternative to the party in office. The party with the most opposition seats in the Assembly and is called the Official Opposition.”


I am not sure why Zulu is attacking Shannon Phillips. If he agrees with the governments spending, agree. If you don’t, call it out. You don’t have to be an economic genius to realize, that, the money going out for huge tax breaks will create a loss of substantial income to the province and this is without COVID. We will be paying for these irresponsible actions fora very long time.


There is no such thing as a poltician in government that truly and honestly represents or is allowed to represent it’s constituents anymore . . . apparently the constituents do not know what is good them and their communities!
No government appears to be listening to it’s electors . . . NDP, Cons, Libs . . .none!
Tens of millions have been blown to enable addicts, this generating more by the use of SCS sites. 70% of fatal overdoses in BC and Alberta are where the person resides. Treatment is the answer! Effective treatment programs work but as seen in BC, enabling only generates more addicts, more crime, more homeless and more costs. Just in the Vancouver DTES over $360 million has been pumped into that small area of about 20,000 people for social/housing services needed due to the addictions. Imagine if that money would have been pumped into effective treatment programs. Instead, addictions issues now have spread like a fast moving cancer across the province and into Alberta. They are now giving our ‘free’ prescribed opioids under the taxpayers dollar in vending machines . . . using the addicts handprint to dispense the drugs . . . nothing like feeding the addiction instead of treatment . . . those machines must be at least $30,000 a piece.
Health Canada is now considering putting them across Canada!!!
The Alberta Cons promised in their election campaign to reverse the centralized EMS dispatch services, but they now are pushing it through, against this cities objections. This will result in higher operating costs to the Lethbridge taxpayer ( property taxes ), degrading of our services that has already seen Code Red’s with not available ambulances and one case that I am aware of, someone transporting their loved one to hospital with their own vehicle, as they were having a heart attack. Expect more like this!
You really cannot trust any politicians promises anymore . . . as the old saying goes . . . “how do you know when a politician is lying?” . . . . when his/her lips start to move . . .!
Expect cutbacks, expect poor EMS services due to this new centralized dispatch service and expect political trumoil and people rising up to say ” we have had enough and we are not going to take this anymore ! ”
Sad to see such a great province sink into the abyss by constant mismanagement and politicians igoring the pleas of their constituents!!