Mr. Chair, I am very pleased to join this debate, as I was the one in the fall who kick-started the attempts to get an emergency debate on the jobs crisis. It was last fall when the government should have reacted, when Albertans were facing the worst economic headwinds in several generations, over 122,000 energy workers lost their jobs since the oil crash in Alberta, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.5%.
Before I continue, I want to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Banff—Airdrie.
The vacancy rate for lease space is climbing to record highs of 30% in Calgary. This year alone, 11,000 businesses have either failed or moved out of Calgary. We call this the small business extinction event. It is the worst people have seen in 40 years. I would know a little about it, because I used to work for the Chamber of Commerce in Calgary. It is the worst I have ever seen it in Calgary.
This is not my time. This is time for my constituents, so I will spend the rest of my time paraphrasing and reading emails I have received from them on the record of the government and their thoughts on how they have been doing.
“Albertans don't like hand-me-downs. We are proud, hard-working people that like to earn everything we have”. It was said by Louise Byez from Elgin Meadows in my riding.
Aleks in my riding said, “Abolish the carbon tax initiative. It will not provide any sort of benefits to Canada or small business. It will lead to massive job losses”. He continued, “My family and I immigrated here in the early 1990s due to civil war and eventual separation of the former Yugoslavia. I know how hard it is to find a job”.
Clint Hickman, who lives in the northern part of my riding, said, “99.999% of crude oil moved by pipeline moves safely”. He went on to say, “That's because of us. We are a world-class workforce”.
Karen Draper from Calgary in my riding had a heartbreaking story. She said, “At the same time I'm broke and will be declaring bankruptcy this week as I have responsibilities I cannot afford. My vehicle insurance payment just bounced. I have a three-year-old son. My brother is laid off, my mother is laid off. My small business that was once very much profitable is now failing and it will dissolve, and the four of us will be pulling together to ensure we all get through. Thousands of Albertans are waiting for this weight off our backs. Please help us and stand up for people like us.”
I spent the last few weeks asking businesses in my riding how much the carbon tax would cost each and every one of them, because it is a direct correlation to job losses to be expected. One business in my riding, which exports agricultural products, said that in 2017, it would cost $588,000 and in 2018, it would cost $883,000.
John Odin owns an automotive technology company. He expects to pay $8,230 more in carbon taxes. Carmen works for General Downhole, which is likely an oil and gas technology company. She said it would cost $2,248 more in carbon taxes. Angela at Western Drilling Tools said it would cost $94,958.52. As I said before, this is my constituents' time.
Cesar Ballestrini said, “It's too expensive to become an entrepreneur. High rents, high taxes, high electricity bill, high wages, high gas, low or no profit just to survive”.
Penelope Moses said, “No carbon tax. Learn from Australia and France, why they are repealing their carbon taxes”.
Rick Smith in Riverbend said, “Governments do not create jobs. They facilitate industry and private business to create the jobs. It is long past time to do just that.
Mr. Folden in Douglas Woods said, “Aggressively pursue getting new pipeline capacity built to export oil, aggressively pursue getting LNG facilities built in place”.
Iva Georgieva on Mount Norquay, which is in McKenzie Lake, said, “Lobby energy east pipeline and get Canadian product to markets. We don't need a carbon tax”, she went on to say.
Larry and Carol Wentz said, “Scrap the carbon tax and build those pipelines a.s.a.p. east and west. Quit giving money away to foreigners and invest in Canada”.
Carlos Santos from Mahogany said, “We need a low-tax environment, business-friendly legislation, and support for our oil industry. We don't need uninformed protesters, bad, unstable government policy, a carbon tax, unfair legislation, and cumbersome causation payments”.