Something has changed. Many things have changed. Everything has changed. Take your pick. Alberta in 2018 is radically different that it has been for decades, perhaps generations.
At Alberta Fund we want to explore and explain what we believe are the 10 things that matter most to Albertans. As the project progresses these may change, but to begin the discussion the top 10 issues – not necessarily in order of importance – are:
- Should Alberta join the governments of rest of the Western world and run permanent government deficits? Will Albertans make the sacrifices to reduce debt today to reduce future debt expenses tomorrow?
- What is the role of the provincial government in Alberta? Should our government support Albertans and the private sector in their individual and corporate initiatives or should it be a driving force in shaping our future?
- Does Alberta’s health care system adequately serve Albertans? If not, what are the options?
- The oil and gas industry dominates Alberta’s economy. Should the government of Alberta support this industry? Can its future be as economically beneficial as its past? Is this key industry competitive in the global environment? If not, what needs to change.
- For Alberta’s oil industry to continue to succeed our province needs pipeline access. This is a complex issue. Our critics want us out of the oil industry. Our government claims we can gain acceptance – the so-called “social license” - only through carbon taxes and increased regulation. What do Albertans think?
- Alberta was once renowned as a low tax regime for individuals and corporations. This was once called the Alberta Advantage. Is this something Albertans wish to regain? The government claims Alberta’s taxes are still lower than other jurisdictions. Is that good enough? Are Albertans satisfied with just being average?
- Over 1 million people have moved Alberta in the past quarter century. Why did they move here? What did they expect? Is today’s Alberta the same as the one they relocated to?
- Business, particularly resource industries, are increasingly burdened with well-intentioned but expensive regulations and approval processes. Should governments streamline regulations and legislative supervision to maintain fiduciary oversight while reducing expenses and delays?
- Alberta has been a significant net financial contributor to Confederation yet when we need the help of our fellow Canadians in areas like market access we are met with opposition and even resistance. To what degree should Alberta question the existing regime and specific issues like equalization?
- Even as GDP starts to slowly improve, and Alberta exits technical recession the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, unlike prior cyclical expansions following the downturn. What policies, legislative and regulatory adjustments can be made to get more Albertans back to productive work?