Commendable objectives, however lacking a long-term strategy for growth and business competitiveness
Today, the Business Council of Alberta welcomed the Speech from the Throne and appreciates the additional significance that it was delivered by Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General, Mary Simon.
Throne speeches set the vision for the Government’s priorities, and while not designed to provide detail, they give an outline of the government’s broad policy and legislative agenda for the months and years ahead.
Earlier this year, this Council sent a letter to the Prime Minister and all party leaders outlining Alberta’s needs and priorities for the next government. We identified two main areas as key priorities for the newly sworn-in federal government:
- Short-term issues related to COVID-19 management and the transition from pandemic to endemic.
- Creating a growth agenda to build a stronger, more competitive, innovative, and dynamic national economy.
With today’s throne speech, we analyze what it means for these priorities.
Short-term pandemic management
On the first item, we are pleased to hear that getting the pandemic under control, and ended, is this government’s number one priority, and that many policy actions are underway to do so. Business leaders agree with the federal government that ending the pandemic is the best strategy for short-term economic recovery. This is particularly important for industries that are still hard hit.
Long-term growth and competitiveness strategy
The throne speech stated commendable objectives in terms of creating inclusive growth, and the business community of Alberta stands in full support of these goals for shared prosperity. However, there was a missed opportunity in that the speech did not set out a clear long-term strategy for growth nor a bold policy agenda for improving business competitiveness.
As the details for the policy agenda flow from the throne speech, we provide the following three areas of feedback for consideration.
1. Building an innovation economy to support long-term growth
The throne speech referenced innovation and capital attraction, which are essential. Alberta businesses would like to see further focused attention on building innovative growth, increasing productivity, and improving competitiveness. This will require specific measures to attract investment, improve regulatory agility and outcomes, and scale up innovative ideas that promote a long-term growth agenda.
2. Investing in Alberta’s low-carbon future
The speech stresses that now is the time for bolder action to fight climate change, with a focus on innovation, creating green jobs, and working with like-minded countries to create economic resiliency, sustainability, and competitiveness.
We reiterate to the federal government that Alberta businesses are essential partners in achieving a low carbon future. They are bought-in, and are the foremost investors in decarbonization and green technology. Nonetheless, the scope and scale of the challenge is immense and achieving our shared environmental objectives will require more intensive partnership, faster action, and very significant investment from the federal government – particularly in Alberta as this province has the most important role to play in helping Canada achieve its climate goals, given its unique geographic and industrial structure.
3. Long-term unemployment and workforce transition
We encourage the federal government to recognize that while Canada overall may be back to comparable pre-pandemic employment levels, there are key regional differences. Including the fact that Albertans are struggling with long-term unemployment at rates disproportionate to the rest of Canada, which will require regionally-targeted attention and support.
We look forward to working with the federal government in executing many of the ambitions set out in this throne speech, and in continuing to build a strong Alberta within an even more dynamic Canada.
In the coming weeks we will be sending a letter to many ministers with additional detail on how their specific mandate intersects with Alberta’s priorities, and offering the support of Alberta’s business community in working together on those goals.