Posted on Dec 2, 2016

Reflecting on 2016

This past year saw tremendous economic pain and anxiety in our province due to the global collapse in the price of oil. This left Albertans with a choice. We could cut public services, slash spending on schools, hospitals and roads, and fire thousands of front-line workers, or, we could choose to control spending and protect vital public services, while creating new jobs and diversifying our economy.

With the adoption of Budget 2016 and the Alberta Jobs Plan, our government has worked to encourage job creation, business capital investment, and economic diversification. Increasing the minimum wage from $11.20 to $12.20 brings workers closer to a living wage, which benefits us all.

Alberta is Canada’s best place for entrepreneurs and we’re providing supports they’ve asked for by creating an Alberta Investor Tax Credit of 30%, and doubling supports to help small businesses plan, develop, test and prototype technology products. Starting January 1, 2017 the Small Business Tax will be cut from 3% to 2% - the lowest overall in Canada.

As of January 1, Alberta’s carbon pricing policy will be implemented, starting at a price of $20 per tonne of carbon emissions, rising to $30 per tonne in 2018. This levy will be included in the price of all fuels that emit greenhouse gases when combusted. It will not, however, apply directly to consumer purchases of electricity. 60% of Albertans will receive a rebate that will cover the average cost of the levy. Energy Efficiency Alberta will be launched in early 2017 to aid Albertans in reducing their carbon footprint.

In May of this year we witnessed the largest wildfire evacuation in our province’s history, as nearly 590,000 hectares north of us and 88,000 people were evacuated from Fort McMurray. As 2016 draws to a close, the heroism and bravery of the first responders, fire fighters and countless volunteers comes to mind. Almost 12,000 individuals were directly involved in the wildfire emergency effort, and countless others from across the province continue to lend a hand during ongoing recovery efforts. The scale of the fire and evacuation efforts is unprecedented, but the response from the community exemplified who we are as a province.

I look forward to the work that awaits us in 2017, and welcome your thoughts and comments at any time. We will continue to work hard to protect Albertans, create jobs, and diversify our economy. I wish you and your family a happy holiday season with time for reflection and celebration, and a very happy new year.