Alberta’s economy and Wheatland County have seen many major investments and economic growth recently. These investments are undoubtedly a great thing, but Alberta residents aren’t seeing the benefits in their paychecks right now, as the province has the slowest wage growth in Canada.
According to NDP reports, average weekly earnings for Albertans rose just 1.1% in July, compared to 2.9% in the rest of Canada. NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips explained that this, combined with inflation, means Albertans are losing more money than the rest of the country.
“Our inflation has been really, really bad here in Alberta. Our inflation was 7.4% in July, so Albertans are now losing 6% of their wages every month. on ordinary families to pay the bills.”
Premier Jason Kenney has made many speeches over the past few months talking about how well the economy is doing and how much investment is flowing into Alberta. Phillips agrees these investments are great to see, but that still doesn’t help people pay their bills if wage growth remains low while inflation and the cost of living rise.
“Jason Kenney spends his time speaking behind podiums instead of going out and talking to ordinary Albertans. When I knock on doors every day, I hear that people are really confused by this message because what they see in their daily life is that things are getting much more difficult. So when a politician like Jason Kenney, totally disconnected from their lives, stands there and says, “Everything is great,” all they see is that their utility bills are rising, their wages aren’t keeping up, grocery stores are more expensive, their car insurance is more expensive,” said Phillips.
Just being aware of the problem is not enough to help people. So what can be done? Phillips says some things, like inflation itself or the cost of food, can’t be tackled directly by the Alberta government, but there are many other things the government could have done to make life easier for Alberta residents.
“UCP can do things to bring down the costs for ordinary people on things like their car insurance, their home insurance and certainly their utility bills. And instead of piling up those costs, which they’ve done through some of their decisions, they could really help take the pressure off.”
“UCP has done nothing for people’s utility bills and their auto insurance and home insurance, which the Alberta government has direct control over. Instead of taking these really specific steps to cap them like we did when we were in government, these people made a backroom deal with the corporations and lifted the rate caps and people’s bills went through them Ceiling.”
As for the increase in wages, Phillips says it comes from investments focused on diversifying the economy and investing in schools and training for workers, so companies outside of Alberta might think Alberta has so many talented workers , so let’s go there. Phillips said the investments brought in by the government so far have been great, but he worries about missed opportunities due to fighting.
In addition, she said the UCP’s cuts in funding for colleges and technical institutes made it harder for Albertans to enter the workforce, which could discourage investment.
“Whenever these investments are made, they are good for people and for the economy. The question is whether we are making sure that we are supporting more value creation in agricultural investments and whether we have missed something. It seems I think that with this ever-declining wage growth, these investments are basically just the job description for government and there is much, much more we can and should be doing.”
Finally, Phillips said that income taxes are not keeping pace with inflation, so on top of slow wage growth we are also paying more taxes. She explained that the previous NDP administration had income tax cut in proportion to inflation, so you’d pay the same, but former Treasury Secretary Travis Toews repealed that as one of his first decisions in office.
“It was costing you hundreds of dollars more a year. Now, three years later, Albertans would pay about $1 billion more in personal income taxes as a direct result of UCP policies, and Travis Toews in particular. There are a number of other benefits, like retirement benefits, which Travis Toews said will no longer keep pace with inflation. Seniors have lost hundreds of dollars and that’s just ridiculous.”
Financial experts across Canada say inflation is heavily influenced by gas prices, so it’s possible we’ll see some relief if prices fall after recently rising again.
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