The storm is not subsiding. Like waves pounding a rocky shore, the bad economic news just keeps on coming.
According to Statistics Canada, Alberta’s unemployment rate rose to 8.6% in July, the highest it has been since 1994. For the first time ever, Alberta’s unemployment rate is higher than Nova Scotia’s. Over the past year, we have lost 104,000 full-time jobs.
The bad news is Alberta’s government remains unwilling to abandon ideological policies in favour of proven solutions to get our economy moving and protect working families. Solutions like keeping taxes low for families, promoting trade, spending within our means and restoring the Alberta Advantage.
Typically, the first thing ideological governments do when the economy begins to weaken is look for a scapegoat: blame the price of oil, blame the previous government, blame main street employers, blame anyone or anything not connected to the government.
However, scapegoating is not a long-term solution. Over time the strategy offers diminishing returns as folks recognize the inherently self-serving nature of these arguments.
Of course, these type of distractions do nothing to addresses the underlying condition: a rapidly shrinking economy. Jobs are being lost. Less is being produced. Trade is declining. Without the kind of economic growth that lifts all people, political divide-and-conquer strategies lead to divide-and-flounder results.
Alberta is floundering.
Unwilling to budge from its pre-recession agenda, the NDP government chooses which businesses it will support through elaborate new tax-and-spend corporate welfare schemes, and which sectors of the labour force it will support through socialist economic policies.
It’s bringing forward policies, like a new carbon tax and dramatic increase to the minimum wage, that are forcing small businesses to close their doors. In the heart of the deepest recession since the 1980s, the government is only making things worse.
Across our province, Albertans are coming to the realization that we can do better than this, that we are better than this.
It’s time to set the politics of division aside. We need more jobs. We need more production. We need more trade. We need the kind of economic policies that offer new hope and new opportunity to all Albertans.
They say that a rising tide floats all boats. It’s an apt metaphor, although it ignores a key truth: A falling tide lowers all boats.
Some are already on the rocks. Only a political sea change will deliver Alberta from the drunken sailor tactics now gripping the helm.
Here in Lacombe-Ponoka jobs continue to be a concern I hear about regularly. I do want to thank all those local businesses owners who have worked extra hard to diversify, keep employees working and investing in Central Alberta’s future.
As MLA for the Lacombe-Ponoka Constituency, my top priorities include meeting with and listening to local constituents. Please feel free to contact my office at 403-782-7725 or by e-mail Lacombe.firstname.lastname@example.org or drop in for a chat at 101, 4892 46 street, Lacombe, AB T4L 2B4.
Ron Orr is MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka.