Ideas

March 11, 2020

Letter of Support to Provincial Government

Today, BCA sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney and the provincial government to offer the full support of the business community to work together to manage the challenging economic situation in which Alberta finds itself. Read the full letter below.


Dear Premier Kenney,

We write this letter as Alberta and Canada find ourselves in a convergence of rare economic and global black swan events that will be highly challenging for businesses, government, and people. This is a problem with a serious impact on Alberta and the largest subsector of the Canadian economy specifically, but it is not limited to one sector or one province. It is a Canadian challenge.

While this is a difficult time, Alberta is strong and resilient. We have made it through tough periods before, and we will again.

As a business community we remain highly confident both in the future of this province, and our collective ability to manage through this period.  Above all else, this letter is to offer the full support of the business community in working together.

As you consider the options for Alberta’s response to the current economic storm, we offer the following considerations

Maintaining government funding levels

This is an extraordinary time deeply impacting Alberta created by events beyond the control of any level of government. In these extraordinary times, we encourage you to stay the course with the Province’s fiscal plan. We believe remaining committed to the levels of investment and expenditure included within the recent budget rather than any reductions aimed at trying to maintain the original path to balance is the right approach. Given volatility of revenues, a path to balance will be extremely difficult to achieve. Maintaining expenditures and investments at the budgeted levels will ensure the services Albertans need are provided and reduce uncertainty generally. Simulative measures will also be required. This will undoubtedly result in a deficit larger than predicted and a longer path to balance. From the perspective of business, this is a prudent approach under the new circumstances

Working with lenders and investors

We propose you consider appointing a specific representative of the provincial government to work with lenders and investors during this period. They would work to encourage a calm and reasoned long term view, as has long been the hallmark of Canadian institutions. The balance sheets of many Alberta companies are much stronger than in the last energy price shock. We are in a stronger position to weather this storm and doing so will be a joint effort between business, investors, lenders and government. We believe that they can play a role in terms of working together to keep Alberta businesses afloat, ensure availability of working capital, and that they should be encouraged to support Alberta companies’ operations through these difficult times rather than calling of loans due to the current conditions.

Investing in Innovation and Alberta’s Expanding Economy

Opportunity exists to fund a host of economic programs and projects that will support the energy sector, in terms of its drive to reduce emissions, as well as our expanding sectoral base in the areas of technology, logistics and agriculture. Projects aligned to these key sectors, and in ways that enhance Alberta’s focus on innovation and clean technology and that enable the continued success of our traditional resource sectors, can support quality future-oriented jobs for people, and work towards ambitions of reconciliation, climate and economic issues. For example, you may wish to consider a co-investment in or funding immediate opportunities arising from the forthcoming recommendations of the Innovation Capital Working Group. Potential exists to seek co-investment commitment from the federal government in areas of innovation funding for artificial intelligence, clean tech, medical technology and enterprise software development – all strengths of the Alberta innovation sector.

Thank you for your openness to considering these ideas. Your government’s decision to form the urgent economic advisory committee is a positive first step, and we look forward to sharing proposals with that group. We would also be pleased to discuss these items further in person at a time of your convenience.

The Business Council of Alberta is committed to building a better Alberta within a more prosperous Canada. We look forward to working with you and your office to advance this goal.

Yours truly,

Adam Legge
President
Business Council of Alberta

CC:

Honourable Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy
Honourable Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance
Honourable Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism

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