Alberta NDP says the UCP government’s decision to delay the use of federal wage top-up funding is costing jobs and hurting the economy.
The UCP’s delay in taking full advantage of the federal wage top-up will cost Alberta $401.3 million in forgone GDP and 1,706 jobs by the end of 2021, says the Opposition. Those numbers were arrived at using a model Stephen Harper’s Conservative government relied on to determine the stimulative effects of government spending,
“Jason Kenney is making our economy worse and is holding back Alberta’s economic recovery,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
In May 2020, Ottawa and the provinces reached a $4-billion cost-sharing agreement to boost essential workers’ pay. The federal government promised to provide up to $3 billion if the provinces contributed $1 billion. However, since that time Alberta has only accessed $30 million out the $347 million maximum in eligible federal funding, says the NDP.
“This was a three-to-one sure bet on money in Albertans’ pockets and the Premier chose to play politics rather than support them,” said Notley.
The wage top-up was intended to be given to essential workers as compensation for working in high risk settings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Provinces are allowed to determine which occupations will be eligible for funding.
In B.C., the government has cut cheques to more than 200,000 citizens, stimulating their economy at a time when it needs it most.
“These workers are risking their health every single day to keep Albertans safe and keep our economy moving,” said Notley. “While Jason Kenney gives billions to profitable corporations, he turned his back on this funding and working Albertans — hurting our economic recovery in the process.”
Alberta currently has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, and according to RBC, the province had the worst performing economy last year and will have the slowest post-COVID recovery.
“Even if Jason Kenney were to finally get to work and allow Alberta workers access to this funding tomorrow, Albertans have lost out on hundreds of millions in economic growth and over a thousand jobs at a time when they needed it most .”