WHEREAS Alberta’s unemployment rate is trending upward and remains above the national average; and
WHEREAS consumer bankruptcies increased by 9.1% from November 2018 to November 2019; and
WHEREAS citizen dependence on employment insurance in Alberta is on the rise; and
WHEREAS consumer confidence is plunging due to sustained economic decline; and
WHEREAS rural crime, due in part to increased unemployment, has increased markedly since 2014; and
WHEREAS commercial bankruptcies are seeing a year over year increase since 2016; and
WHEREAS certain bureaucratic government policies in response to perceived environmental emergencies have resulted in actual corporate and personal financial crisis;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate to the governments of Alberta and Canada to declare an economic state of crisis and work with all levels of government to develop and enact policies designed to secure investment and employment in the energy and agricultural sectors.
Western Canada’s resource-based communities are facing unprecedented challenges due to many factors. These factors connect western Canadians but create a disconnect from those elsewhere in the country. Such factors include a lack of awareness on the part of many Canadians about the challenges being faced in western Canada and the perceived indifference of the Government of Canada to continued attacks by radical environmental groups on the industries that are a major contributor to Canada’s economic engine.
These factors have led to one common outcome: significant financial challenges for every Canadian who is reliant, either directly or indirectly, on the energy sector for their living. In Alberta, all business is impacted; not only direct energy-related businesses or secondary and tertiary businesses but the local grocery shops, clothing stores and other essential local businesses. Community organizations, sports teams, and schools are suffering due to a lack of membership and financial support as community members move or suffer mental/physical and emotional distress due to the loss of employment.
The energy industry’s record of environmental stewardship, Indigenous outreach policy and proven economic success is something that governments at all levels should champion. There is significant scientific information supporting the environmental practices of Alberta’s energy industry compared to other petroleum producers such as Saudi Arabia or Venezuela. Consultation and inclusion with Indigenous peoples has significantly increased as the reconciliation process has evolved. Alberta’s Indigenous communities have played a significant role and investment in the energy sector which is a key economic driver of the Canadian economy.
1-19S: Municipal Support for the Energy Industry
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate for the Government of Alberta to further develop and implement a targeted, national education and marketing campaign on behalf of Albertans in order to offset foreign protectionism and de-marketing campaigns, regulatory delays, and the combined infrastructure and economic factors that are creating a significant, negative effect on Canada’s local, provincial, and national economies. The elements of the education and marketing campaign include as outlined in “Schedule A”;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Alberta provide resources to offset the combined negative impacts affecting the energy industry through:
Alberta Economic Development, Trade and Tourism
Investment attraction is a priority for the Government of Alberta, and as identified in our government’s A Blueprint for Jobs Plan, we will soon be releasing an Investment and Growth Strategy. To enable job-creators in attracting investment, the Alberta Investment and Growth Strategy is an overarching framework to guide policies and programs focused on retaining and expanding domestic and foreign direct investment into the province, resulting in shared economic prosperity, using a systematic approach across the investment continuum (from identification to aftercare). This includes a concentrated effort on principal sectors like energy and agriculture, which currently have a comparative economic advantage, and tourism, as well as key enabling sectors with a high potential to fuel momentum and growth in the wider provincial economy – technology, aerospace, and financial services.
By building on our strengths in a coordinated Team Alberta approach, our investment attraction ecosystem can transform to be consistently strategic, reliable, timely and tailored. As announced in Budget 2020, a new investment attraction agency will be established to focus on high-value, high-impact investment opportunities, including new foreign direct and Canadian investment.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Recognizing the challenges facing our industry, Agriculture and Forestry has taken action to protect employment, support agriculture, and attract investment in Alberta’s agriculture and agri-processing sector, including new funding to support farmers, agri-businesses, and food processors. These include:
Alberta’s competitive agriculture sector plays a key role in supporting rural communities and the economic success of the province. As a major economic driver in Alberta, agriculture employs more than 75,000 people and generates nearly $12 billion in annual export sales. Agriculture and Forestry’s Investment Attraction and International Market Development sections have a strong mandate to facilitate expansion of the agri-processing sector and support companies seeking access to international markets. As part of this, my ministry works closely with Alberta’s international offices, economic development organizations, industry associations, and our provincial and federal partners and others on a global basis.
In addition, the Government of Alberta has launched a new strategy to champion Alberta’s agricultural sector to ensure continued growth and long-term success for the sector. As part of this strategy, I have asked senior leaders from the agricultural and agri-processing sector, including farmers, ranchers, agri-business leaders and members of the academic community to come together as an Agriculture Industry Advisory Committee to provide strategic advice and recommendations on emerging issues and priorities. These industry leaders will work to highlight Alberta’s sustainable agriculture practices and illustrate how our industry leads on a global stage to feed people around the world and inspire consumer confidence in agricultural products produced in Alberta.
Supporting Business and Employment
Reducing Red Tape
Selling Alberta to the World
Alberta is accelerating development and awareness of the provinces’ leadership in ESG performance; establishing international offices as centres for advocacy and information about our energy sector; and continuing to hold conversations with United Kingdom, European Union, and other international audiences to showcase our excellent credentials
The Alberta Energy response indicates that the Ministry is working on developing a provincial environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy that will be aimed at strengthening and promoting Alberta’s position as a responsible energy producer and attracting investment to its energy sector. In addition, Alberta Energy has been reducing red tape in the energy sector by repealing unnecessary and outdated regulations and legislation and expanding the Orphan Well Association’s (OWA) powers to better manage and accelerate their clean-up of wells and sites. RMA appreciates Alberta Energy’s efforts to attract and secure investment with these initiatives, it is too early to determine whether these efforts will attract investment to Alberta. The RMA will continue to monitor these initiatives and update members on their status.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s responses also include encouraging initiatives to support the growth of the province’s agriculture industry.
Although the investment and growth strategies and supports identified in the Government of Alberta’s response is an encouraging step toward supporting the province’s economic recovery, the response makes no reference to declaring the economic state of emergency referenced in the operative clause of the resolution, or of working with the Government of Canada to encourage increased investment and growth in Alberta’s energy and agriculture sectors.
Further follow-up correspondence on this issue from Alberta Jobs, Economy and Innovation (formerly Alberta Economic Development, Trade and Tourism) also highlights collaborative provincial-federal efforts to support Alberta’s economic recovery, including internationally-focused attempts to define and defend Alberta’s environmental, social and governance standards across all sectors as a means to attract international investment to the province, as well as matching levels of municipally-focused funding that will indirectly support the agriculture and oil and gas industries by supporting Alberta’s infrastructure.
As the provincial responses do not indicate a plan to declare a specific economic state of crisis, and RMA has not yet received a response from the Government of Canada, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.