The Notley government has released some numbers in an effort to put to rest some of the concerns over the new carbon tax. The one page report forecasts the province’s GDP will shrink in the short-term, but expects long-term growth. Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says the estimates the government released yesterday are preliminary and don’t take into account the expected growth of a diversified energy industry. Phillips adds the numbers don’t show the cost of doing nothing. “There is no scenario in which the health effects of burning coal contribute to the economy. That’s just simply not true. There is no situation in which continued problems accessing markets or the continued hit to our international reputation grows the economy because it simply doesn’t.”
Phillips says this preliminary data doesn’t include a few things, such as new private sector investment expected in the coming years. She adds the made-in-Alberta plan is better than letting the federal Liberals impose a plan. “Others would be deciding which industries get output allocations, which don’t, how to structure those conversations.”
Wildrose MLA Don McIntyre says this report is missing a lot of information. “Anything to do with coal shutdown, no compensation, no economic impact on the communities that are going to be hurt by this. Neither does it take into account the so-called $10-billion in renewables investment coming into this province. Without those two elements, we’re talking about $20-billion that are not included in this report, so just what is this report for.” McIntyre says the NDP’s internal analysis must be “bad news,” because if it was good, they’d be more transparent with the numbers.
PC MLA Rick Fraser is calling the report a bunch of “government spin.” Fraser says it’s not like the PCs weren’t doing something when they were in government. “We were the first jurisdiction to put a price on carbon. When you look at the percentage of renewables to date, it’s almost 15%, so this government is going to try to reach 30%. So, it’s not like there wasn’t action taking place but ultimately you want to do that in partnership and in consultation with your industry partners.” Fraser says the carbon tax will affect Albertans for years to come, and the NDP should be willing to present all the facts.