How should Canada help Alberta's economy?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Alberta, promising immediate infrastructure money
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in Alberta this week, promising immediate infrastructure money and hearing from leaders about the province's desire for pipelines.
Trudeau has offered the following help:
- The federal government will fast-track $700 million to spur a flagging economy flattened by low energy prices. The money from the Building Canada Fund was announced in 2014 by the previous federal government but never made it to the province.
- Alberta will receive $250 million it requested under the fiscal stabilization fund.
- Trudeau has promised to change the employment insurance program, which currently requires Albertans to work more insured hours to qualify for benefits and which pays for fewer weeks than it does in other parts of Canada.
Trudeau is also under pressure to advocate for pipelines, but has indicated he'd prefer to let the process play out through the National Energy Board.
Is Trudeau doing enough for the Alberta economy?
Readers told us what they would do if they were prime minister in the latest CBC Forum — a live, hosted discussion about topics of national interest. Here's what they suggested.
(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the username to see the complete comment in the blog format.)
Quite a few people felt Alberta deserved no help. William was one of the more polite commenters holding that view.
"Being specific to one individual province isn't fair to the other provinces that are in worse shape than Alberta for unemployment and depressed provincial economies." — William
Several people said Alberta's low taxes gave them pause.
"I would provide help conditional upon Alberta having a provincial sales tax, as help comes to those who help themselves." — Larry Paquette
"Possibly during the next boom a provincial sales tax should be introduced that is just charged to non-essential purchases that could be used for scholarships, EI boosting, education." — Klondikecat
The most popular suggestion for helping Alberta was pipeline construction.
"We could really use accelerated timelines for reducing barriers allowing us to get our products to market, like pipelines." — Nikolas Copernicus aka...
"Build the Energy East pipeline. Require an exit strategy for the oil sands. Allow a short-term increase in production but then a gradual weaning off of oil, say over 30 years." — EEwint
"Champion our resources instead of hiding them. Alberta does not want a handout. They just want to work and get the product that they proudly produce to market." — teebow
There were also other suggestions, ranging from stepping away from oil to doubling down on it.
"Any help should be towards diversification. Support of the oil industry should only happen if the benefits can be balanced with climate change goals." — berta
"The only long-term solution to Alberta's (and other resource-based provinces) current malaise is for the feds to spearhead access to other markets than the U.S." — Dr. Crew
"The federal government can help by coming up with a coherent federal energy policy and getting the other provinces on board with it. There's too much division on energy and most of it is based on total nonsense. The energy industry can work for all of Canada. The provinces just need to start working together as a country." — Tyler
You can read the complete discussion below.
With files from CBC's Michelle Bellefontaine