Alberta will spend billions on infrastructure projects, cut its corporate tax rate, establish a new investment agency and introduce a litany of targeted incentives for industry as part of a plan to restart its battered economy.
Premier Jason Kenney said his government would spend $10 billion on projects that will immediately create jobs, including pipelines, health-care facilities, pipelines, schools, drug treatment centres and more.
He said the government anticipates the creation of 50,000 jobs directly tied to the projects across the province.
Kenney said the plan calls for an increase of 40 per cent over planned infrastructure spending announced in its spring budget and said it represents the “largest infrastructure build in Alberta history.”
In addition to the spending, Kenney also said his government would speed up the implementation of corporate tax cuts, slashing the rate from 10 per cent to 8 per cent starting on July 1.
The province has been battered by oil price wars and the COVID-19 pandemic and has seen its deficit balloon from a projected $7 billion to $20 billion this year.
Its most recent budget was based on oil fetching $58 US per barrel, a forecast critics called rosy at the time, and was rushed through the legislature as a battle between Saudi Arabia and Russia cratered the price and the global pandemic settled on Alberta.
Economists are predicting a severe recession in the once-booming province and even Kenney has warned of “a great fiscal reckoning” to come in a province that has tied its fortunes to the swings of its main commodity.
Kenney warned unemployment could reach 25 per cent.
There will also be a focus on diversifying the economy in critical growth sectors while buttressing the existing oil and gas industry.
In March, Kenney announced a 12-member economic advisory panel, including former prime minister Stephen Harper, to provide guidance on the relaunch.
Calgary, where Kenney will make the announcement today, has been particularly hard hit over the past few years by an oil price downturn that not only refuses to rebound.
Its downtown vacancy rate has been hovering around 25 per cent for years now, leaving a big hole in the tax base that is only expected to grow.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said the city will require particular aid from the province and the federal government in order to ride out its current storm.