The policy objectives laid out in the federal government’s throne speech virtually ignored a Canadian energy sector in crisis and will result in job losses, Alberta’s premier said in a statement issued Wednesday night.
“Alberta is disappointed that instead of listening to Canada’s provinces, the federal government doubled down on policies that will kill jobs, make Canada poorer and weaken national unity,” Premier Jason Kenney said.
In a speech read by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, the Liberal government pledged to continue to offer a federal wage subsidy it brought in when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada.
It also promised to put everyone under the employment insurance system in an attempt to help hard-hit workers, even if they previously didn’t qualify for the decades-old program. And it made promises related to childcare, gender equality, fighting climate change and racism.
The energy sector, which has been struggling to bounce back ever since oil prices collapsed several years ago — and whose challenges became more acute when the pandemic hit — received only a brief mention in the speech.
“Canada cannot reach net zero without the know-how of the energy sector, and the innovative ideas of all Canadians, including people in places like British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador,” the throne speech said.
The speech went on to say that the government will “support manufacturing, natural resource, and energy sectors as they work to transform to meet a net-zero future, creating good-paying and long-lasting jobs.”
“Earlier today, Statistics Canada showed the steepest decline ever for jobs in the resource sector — 43,000 people lost their good-paying jobs,” Kenney said Wednesday.
“Every one of these jobs lost represents a family that is disrupted, the uncertainty of how to pay bills or a mortgage, and questions about how folks are going to get food on the table.”
Watch below: Some recent videos about Canada’s oil and gas sector.
Kenney called on Ottawa to “hit the pause button on policies that unfairly and unconstitutionally target the economic engine of Canada.”
“The next thing they can do is to demonstrate real support for Alberta by recognizing the fiscal calamity we face with the collapse of provincial revenue by living up to the original intent of the fiscal stabilization program and giving Alberta back $6.5 billion — less than one per cent of what Alberta has contributed to Canada.”
The premier said that demand was not akin to asking for a handout but rather a request to “support our province in the same way that Alberta has supported Canada for generations.”
Last month, Kenney’s government provided a fiscal update. Alberta has been pushed into a historic deficit of $24.2 billion, more than triple what the provincial government projected in its February budget. The fiscal situation is widely seen as the result of struggling oil prices and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenney also said the throne speech suggested the Trudeau government’s priorities are not aligned with those of him and several other premiers who met last week and came up with a list of asks, including $28 billion to be given to provinces to spend on health care.
Kenney has a media availability scheduled for Thursday morning where he is expected to speak to reporters about the throne speech and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national televised address on Wednesday night.
–With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly and The Canadian Press’ Jordan Press and Bob Weber
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