A pretty Alberta employment picture bodes well for 2024—rose-coloured glasses not necessary. That’s the scene painted late last year by UCP MLA Myles McDougall for his legislature colleagues.
One of those colleagues, however, produced a less optimistic scene: middle-class families in Canada pushed out of their homes by federal environmental policies. Chantelle de Jonge, UCP MLA for Chestermere-Strathmore, said the federal government shifted “yet another set of their climate goalposts” with the announcement after COP 28 of a stringent methane reduction target. The announcement hits hard, she said, because Alberta had just nailed an earlier target—three years ahead of schedule.
McDougall, a first-time MLA elected last May to represent Calgary-Fish Creek, made his case by pointing to November job creation and labour force numbers. A surge that month saw nearly 8,900 primarily full-time jobs created and 14,400 workers added to the labour force. Employment increased by 4.1 per cent in one year, “far outstripping the national average of 2.5 per cent.”
The results stem from “our government’s unwavering commitment to fostering an investment-friendly economy,” he said in a Dec. 4 member statement to the legislature.
McDougall continued: “The economic trajectory of our province is nothing short of exciting and promising. Alberta continues to generate a multitude of high-quality jobs while attracting substantial investments, solidifying its position as a hub of economic growth and opportunity.”
A former executive assistant to the provincial treasurer, McDougall identified the recent Dow Chemical launch of its Path2Zero project as a “shining example” of good economic news. The $11.6-billion project—with $400-million in federal support under two tax credit programs and a 12 per cent, $1.8-billion provincial grant—expands ethylene and polyethylene capacity at the company’s Fort Saskatchewan site while retrofitting existing assets for net-zero carbon emissions.
McDougall concluded: “Let us remain resolute in our commitment to nurture and expand this prosperity, ensuring that Alberta remains a beacon of opportunity and growth to all.”
But remarks made by de Jong were less enthusiastic about the economy, in the wake of the COP 28 climate summit in Dubai, federal government actions and energy industry layoffs.
The methane target announcement from the feds came “just weeks after painful layoffs at major energy companies,” she said in a Dec. 4 member statement. “While Canadians have grown used to attacks against productive, job-creating industries from the NDP-Liberal alliance in Ottawa, their pocketbooks have not,” she said. “As all the ideological and environmental targets and programs do out of Ottawa, this will fall back on Canadians, who are already in the midst of an affordability crisis.”
de Jonge pointed to the federal carbon tax, the “unconstitutional clean electricity regulation” and the greening of building codes as further examples of federal actions she says punish Canadians. “All of these things are threatening to pile up and put middle-class families on the street.”
The federal government wants to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by at least 75 per cent of 2012 levels by 2030. Alberta claims it reduced emissions by 45 per cent from 2014 levels in 2022, even though the target year was 2025.
Earlier media reports quote a Carleton University study that casts doubt on Alberta’s measurements. The study said Alberta may have underestimated methane emissions by nearly 50 per cent. But the Alberta Energy Regulator said Alberta used the best available data.
Methane makes up about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions but has a disproportionate effect on climate. It is about 28 times as effective as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
The current session of the 31st Alberta Legislature reconvenes Feb. 28.
By George Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jan 25, 2024 at 09:22