By Ian Croft
The United Conservative Party is seeing significant backlash over their new Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program.
The new program is designed to make Alberta a very attractive investment opportunity for petrochem- ical corporations and to directly compete with other investment locations such as in Asia, the Middle East, and the United States. To achieve this they are going to be giving grants to corporations that physically open a location in Alberta and the corporations will also need to make permanent jobs for Albertans.
“Today we’re adding another incentive to Alberta’s already world-class opportunities for petrochemical development. On top of our existing petrochemical producers and all the companies that feed in and support them, we have a multi-generational supply of natural gas, an experienced workforce, and one of the lowest tax rates in North America. By launching this program, Alberta moves towards achieving the goal of becoming one of the most attractive investment opportunities for petrochemicals in the world,” said Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity.
With the eligibility of the grants also requiring you to have a base investment cost of $50 million, the Alberta government will be paying these corporations from $6 million to $18 million, and beyond due to the grant being 12 per cent of the pro- ject’s eligible capital cost with no upper limit for the said grants.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to sign a blank cheque for the petrochemical industry,” said Franco Terrazzano, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Alberta Director, in a press release.
“It’s bad enough that taxpayers are already paying for one bad petrochemical subsidy, but it’s completely unacceptable for Premier Jason Kenney to let another petrochemical subsidy to be rolled out without a cap on taxpayer costs.”
These grants are on top of the $1.1 billion that the Alberta government is already paying towards the petrochemical industry.
“Kenney deserves credit for lowering the business tax rate so job creators can invest more of their own money into their business, but the government is taking a wrong turn by adding another petrochemical corporate welfare program on to the backs of struggling taxpayers,” said Terrazzano.
Alongside these comments Kathleen Ganley, NDP Energy Critic, called out the UCP on cancelling other projects to diversify Alberta’s economy.
“The UCP has cancelled economic diversification programs simply because they see it as a ‘luxury.’ Instead, they’ve relied on their $4.7 billion corporate handout that saw jobs lost, investment fall, and our economy shrink. As a result, we’ve lost momentum to diversify Alberta’s economy that was started under our government.”
“Now the UCP has put forward a program that will lead to fewer jobs, less investment, and greater risk for Albertans compared to our plan while in government.”
“Our Made-in-Alberta program was on track to attract $75 billion in investment. The UCP’s program will attract less than half that.”
“In addition, our focus on royalty credits over grants meant Albertans got better value for their investment, while the UCP put more risk on Albertans only to get lower returns.”
“We need to make strategic investments to diversify our economy and forge a new economic path for our province, but we need to do it in a way that creates as many jobs as possible while taking the risk off Albertans.”