By: Nicky Gocuan
Government Building, Edmonton, Alberta. The Alberta Filipino Journal was recently invited to a Round Table briefing with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Minister of Labor Christina Gray. In the said Media briefing, Premier Notley talked about the controversial TransCanada Mountain Pipeline.
As we all know, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and British Columbia Premier John Horgan have been at odds on the topic of the Trans Canada Mountain Pipeline. The Federal Government recently decided to buy the pipeline to get it built. This move renders the protest of British Columbia mute and academic because of the immunity of the Federal Government.
Premier Notley made sure that if Alberta will be investing $2 Billion into the project, three conditions had to be met. Namely, that construction of the pipeline will continue, that certainty is provided on schedule of the construction and that Alberta gets equity. The federal government acknowledged all these terms.
This is not the first time that the government has taken this type of initiative. They have completed several successful projects which the private sector later invested upon.
On questions about when the controversial Carbon Tax is going away, the Premier explains that this move is a must since Alberta is the only Province without an energy efficiency program. “60% of Alberta families get a rebate and if you look closely at it they will still come out ahead,” adds Notley.
The Premier also mentioned that we do not realize that we are more urbanized than any other province. This means that more people are living in the city. We are way behind in investing in public transportation and we need to do this now if we are to attract future investment. So, is the carbon tax going away? The answer is “no”.
The Alberta Government is currently focusing on continuing its support for the natural oil and gas industry while building the Alternative Energy sector. The government recently did an auction to find out what they would need to do to support said industry and is happy to report that it would cost much less than what they initially expected.
“We are now the No.1 destination for Green Energy investors,” says Premier Notley.
The Alberta government has created a good system that makes sense which will allow investors to have a good return.
The Notley government wants to ensure that there is stability in the renewable energy program and programs for partial upgrading, sending more products to more places in less time. They are also finding more refineries to take our product. They understand that energy diversification is important.
The government also introduced Bill 2, which is the Growth & Diversification Act. This will help stimulate growth across sectors to create more jobs, more economic diversification and create programs for high-tech training to support the transition of the knowledgeable energy sector workforce.
Included in the Bill is the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, the Alberta Investor Tax Credit and the Capital Investment Tax Credit.
The Premier adds that energy exports are up $20 Billion in 2017. Exports are up by 8%, wages are up 2.6%,retail is up 7.5%, wholesale is up,housing construction is up and building permits are up.
In line with the progress of the Notley government, Labor Minister Christina Gray also announced they have made changes to the Alberta Workplace standards which have not been updated in 30 years. They have done this to ensure jobs are protected, sick days are paid, and employees get stat holiday pays,making sure that Alberta is up to minimum standards and in line with rest of the provinces. Occupational Health & Safety has not been updated in four years. Now, employees have the right to know of workplace hazards. They also have the right to participate in the Health & Safety Committee.
Because of too many incidents of gas theft, some resulting in loss of life, Minister Gray started working on the pre-payment of gas in the province,which was supported by the Chief of Police. The move has minimized gas theft in Alberta, which is welcome to our police force, which spent thousands of hours on responding to reports of gas theft,resulting in a waste of resources.
Edmonton police says that this year, there has been 400 gas thefts and this number is down by 26% compared to last year before pre-payment was introduced. In coordination with the police, the Minister was also able to help with plans and policies for convenience stores, focusing on policies for employees working alone, cash visibility, and practicing preventative measures such as there being no high value items in convenience stores after certain hours of the night,to ensure the safety of workers and thus making the Alberta work places after.
The good news is that the Alberta Government’s earlier projection that the economy will start picking up in late 2019 is happening sooner.