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Since 2015, Alberta Can't Wait has been working to restore fiscally responsible conservative government to Alberta. We supported uniting Alberta's two conservative parties into the United Conservative Party and holding the NDP government to account. We've also been raising issues which are sometimes overlooked by all political parties which we believe are critical to our province's success.
Now, we're pleased to say that we're working with the group Canadians for Democracy and Prosperity (CDP) as they work to put forward policies which support Alberta businesses through their new Open For Business campaign.
Since even before the NDP were elected, Alberta businesses have been struggling with a sluggish economy.
However, the situation has become much worse because of the NDP's anti-business policies.
The multi-billion dollars carbon tax, the massive minimum wage hike, the excessive regulations and red tape placed on businesses, and changes to Alberta's labour laws have made our province an unattractive place to do business.
As a result, many businesses have closed their doors, laid off staff, or moved their operations to other provinces.
Alberta used to be the best province in Canada in which to start and grow a business, and we believe that it must be once again the destination of choice for entrepreneurs and investors.
The CDP's Open For Business campaign will be laying out a series of policies which we believe will help Alberta businesses create new jobs and invest in our province.
We also encourage you to sign their "We Support Alberta Business Pledge" which shows support for Alberta businesses.
We're excited to see another group come forward to advance positive policy ideas for Alberta. We know that this remarkable province deserves better than this current government and that the next government must make sure that Alberta will be Open For Business.
Alberta Can't Wait
It's the Olympics that nobody wants.
Out of the seven original cities that expressed an interest in hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics, only two cities remain in contention - a joint bid from Milan and Cortina in Italy and Calgary.
And Milan and Cortina haven't received a guarantee that they'll be fully-funded by the Italian government.
Earlier today, a new conservative municipal coalition government in Stockholm announced that it wasn't supportive of their Olympic bid, and was preparing to inform the International Olympic Committee that it was withdrawing from contention.
Stockholm joins Erzurum (Turkey), Sapporo (Japan), Graz (Austria), and Sion (Switzerland) in deciding that hosting the Olympics isn't worth the cost.
And that cost is enormous.
Calgary 2026, the taxpayer-funded corporation preparing Calgary's Olympic bid, pegs the cost at $5.3 billion, with taxpayers footing $3 billion of the bill. The real cost of hosting these Olympics remains unclear though, as Calgary's City Council is keeping much of the detailed financial information secret from the public.
Today, the provincial NDP government announced that Alberta would be contributing $700 million as its share of the overall cost.
Alberta is already drowning in debt - some estimates place that debt at more than $50 billion as of today, reaching nearly $100 billion by 2023. If left unchecked, Alberta's debt could reach a province-destroying $1 trillion by 2053.
These debt figures are terrifying not just for today's generation, but also for future generations who will be stuck paying off this debt for decades.
Simply put, Alberta cannot afford to host the Olympics while our economy continues to struggle and tens of thousands of Albertans remain out of work.
And the economic picture isn't getting rosier any time soon.
Much of Alberta's revenue is dependent on the royalties it receives for selling our oil and gas. Thanks to the actions of both the NDP government in Edmonton and the Trudeau Liberal government in Ottawa, all of our major pipeline projects have either stalled or been canceled outright.
As a result, we have to sell our oil at a steep discount to the United States - in essence, transferring wealth out of Alberta and to American companies.
The discount on our oil reached its highest level ever this week - West Texas Intermediate crude was selling for $71.68 a barrel, but Western Canadian Select (Alberta's oil) was only selling for $15.97 a barrel - a stunning gap of more than $55 in the per-barrel prices.
This means Alberta will face systemic deficits unless it gets its spending under control - including not spending money on things we can't afford like the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Governments at every level need to understand that they have to start tightening their belts and only paying for things we absolutely need, just as families do when they're facing tough economic times.
Let's stop spending money we don't have and stop putting more debt on the backs of our children.
Alberta Can't Wait
On Monday, October 1st, Alberta's minimum wage increased to $15 per hour - the highest in the entire country.
Supporters of the increase - especially the NDP government - have been quick to point out that studies on minimum wage increases have shown that while those increases have resulted in job losses for positions paying less than the new minimum wage, they were offset by new jobs paying at or above the minimum wage.
There's just one problem with those studies - they reflect minimum wage increases which occurred gradually over time and which were as a result of wage increases across the board brought about by economic growth.
Alberta's minimum wage increase to $15 per hour took less than three years and occurred while Alberta was in the midst of a depressed economy and high unemployment.
So, what do studies say about minimum wage increases that far exceed what is justified by the free market and which are implemented in a compressed period of time?
Unsurprisingly, the research has clearly shown that it hurts businesses and results in job losses - particularly for younger workers.
According to a report by the respected C.D. Howe Institute, this minimum wage hike could see 25,000 more Albertans thrown out of work.
Most young workers have few skills or work experience and rely on entry-level jobs to earn money and gain job experience.
These jobs are now being systematically eliminated from the economy, leading to staggering rates of youth unemployment.
In fact, in Alberta alone, nearly 12% of individuals aged 15-24 were unemployed - in other words, tens of thousands of young Albertans can't find work, and their job search just became much harder as of Monday.
It's just the latest attack on Alberta business since the NDP took office in 2015.
Alberta businesses have had to deal with not only these punishing minimum wage increases, but also with the onerous new requirement to pay statutory holiday pay to employees even when their businesses are closed, Workers' Compensation Board premium hikes, and a multi-billion dollar carbon tax - all while dealing with a sluggish Alberta economy.
Simply put, the NDP is making it unaffordable to do business in Alberta, and are driving away jobs and investment as they pursue their ideological agenda.
Many groups have put forward policy ideas which would help struggling Alberta businesses and unemployed young Albertans, including a youth wage differential which would allow businesses to pay young workers a lower wage.
Rather than consider these ideas, the NDP has instead railed against these groups and businesses, painting them as uncaring and putting profits ahead of people.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Small business owners care deeply about their employees, and it pains them deeply when they have to cut their salaries, reduce their hours, or lay them off.
To portray small businesses as uncaring isn't just inaccurate, it's hurtful to the families who save and scrape to keep their businesses open and their employees on the payroll.
As conservatives, we know that the role of government is to put in place the best conditions possible for businesses to create high-paying jobs, hire workers, and invest in our province - we know that it is the private sector, and not the government, that creates opportunity and prosperity.
This is something the NDP doesn't accept. They genuinely do not believe that the free market is a force for good, and that government must regulate, subsidize, and interfere with business at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, thanks to the NDP, more Albertans will be lining up for employment insurance payouts as they lose their jobs, and more young Albertans will face a tougher struggle to find their first jobs.
Alberta Can't Wait