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Alberta leads nation in economic woes

The board said the Alberta economy has been whacked by the low prices of oil and the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

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Alberta’s GDP set set to fall a whopping 11.3 per cent this year – the worst economic performance by any province by a long ways, says a Conference Board of Canada report.

The board said the Alberta economy has been whacked by the low prices of oil and the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

The board had predicted Alberta to lose seven per cent of GDP.

“The outlook for oil prices over the next two years is quite pessimistic because of the impact on transportation which is a big user of oil,” board chief economist Pedro Antunes told Postmedia.

“That affects profits and royalties the government will have to forgo, but the biggest impact … is the capital investment. Firms have cut down to the bare bones.”

In April, the price of Western Canada Select actually went into negative territory as global prices hit an 18-year low. Price were also hit by an oil war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Oil prices have since improved but are still well below previous years.

The board says Canada as a whole will see a GDPO decline of 8.2 per cent.

Antunes said Alberta’s recent investments in its energy sector such as Keystone XL will strengthen the province’s economy in the future.

“We often hear about how Alberta should diversify. I think Albertans need to realize that it’s hard to diversify when you have such a big contributor to your economy that essentially drives the incomes in Alberta and revenues in Alberta much higher than the rest of the country,” he told Postmedia.

“But the sector goes through peaks and troughs, it is volatile and does have major swings on the economy.”

The Alberta legislature is to convene Thursday for the UCP government’s release of first-quarter numbers for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Premier Jason Kenney says it will be the “biggest deficit in the history of Alberta by a country mile.”

“It will be well north of a $20-billion deficit in large part because of the total collapse of revenues emanating from the coronavirus recession,” he said Tuesday.

“What has made it especially tough in Alberta was the total collapse of energy prices.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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B.C. NDP committee blasts own party on diversity

The email said the election has been “terrible” from the perspective of people of colour

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A B.C. NDP committee is slamming its own party for lack of diversity and says it should apologize.

The damning memo was from the NDP’s IBPoC (Indigenous, Black, Persons of Colour) executive committee was obtained by the Vancouver Sun.

The email said the election has been “terrible” from the perspective of people of colour, and that some IBPoC members have left the party, the Sun reported.

The committee called for anti-white supremacy training and diversity/equity training for all party leadership, as well as commitments to address policies important to people of colour, such as banning street checks and protecting hotel-worker jobs, said the paper.

The email said their committee voiced their displeasure in an Oct. 14 phone call with NDP provincial director Heather Stoutenburg and that some action was promised, including a written apology from the campaign leadership team and a video apology from Premier John Horgan “addressing what he did wrong and how he plans to do better.”

“While we have done a lot of work to ensure diverse representation in the legislature through our slate of candidates, we still have much more work to do — specifically within our campaign staff and campaign leadership team,” Stoutenburg said in a statement to the Sun.

“We’re working to assess and improve our hiring practices with a lens on diversity.”

B.C. voters go to the polls Saturday.

Polls taken this month point to a Horgan majority.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Trudeau gave $237-million contract benefiting Liberal buddy’s company

The $237 million was given to FTI Professional Grade, a company that was only established seven days before. It’s website said the company had two employees.

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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is demanding answers after it was revealed the Justin Trudeau government gave a $237-million no-competition contract to a firm that had been created just seven days before and overpaid by nearly $100 million.

The details were revealed Thursday in the Journal de Montréal.

The report showed during the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the $237 million was given to FTI Professional Grade, a company that was only established seven days before. It’s website said the company had two employees.

The contract was for the manufacturing of 10,000 ventilators. 

After getting the money, FTI hired the firm Baylis to handle the manufacturing of the ventilators, said the paper.

Baylis belongs to Michael Baylis, an ex-liberal MP and an active member of the party since the 1980s. He is also a close friend of Trudeau.

According to the Journal de Montréal, the Trudeau government overpaid by nearly $100 million. 

“The company Medtronic is one of the main ventilator manufacturers. Medtronic sells its unit for approximately $10,000 US, or $13,700 CAD. The ventilators manufactured by Baylis were based on the Medtronic model, but Baylis charged the Canadian government $23,700 per unit,” said the paper’s report.

“This definitely needs to be looked into by a parliamentary committee. It’s possible that there are special circumstances given the urgency, but there’s no reason now, after the fact, not to go back and examine what those might be. If there is any evidence of inappropriate favouritism, it needs to be answered for. This is taxpayer money and it needs to be used prudently, not used to line the pockets of politically-connected individuals,” Aaron Wudrick, Federal Director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation told Westphalian Times.

The Tories are also demanding answers.

“The awarding of the contract to FTI Professional Grade raises huge questions, because of the ties and proximity of Frank Baylis, who was a Liberal MP until 2019,” said Conservative MP Pierre Paul in an interview with the Journal.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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New test means travellers to Alberta can escape quarantine

“We just can’t allow (coronavirus) to shut everything down,” Premier Jason Kenney said.

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Alberta will give international arrivals at the Calgary International Airport a chance to escape the federally mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

The announcement was made Thursday by officials, including Premier Jason Kenney, who is currently in isolation after his municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard came down with COVID-19.

Kenney said starting in early November, international arrivals at YYC and Coutts will be offered a chance to participate in a pilot project that will see them get a COVID-19 test when they arrive.

The traveller would then have enter into quarantine until the test results come back. If negative, the person will be allowed to leave quarantine as long as they promise to have another test within six to seven days after arriving.

Kenney said every traveller would have to check in daily with health officials and stay within Alberta until the 14-day period expires.

Also on Monday, essential Alberta workers who have to leave the country will have access to a $150 fee-for-service test that will see results come in 72 hours before the person arrives at their destination.

“We just can’t allow (coronavirus) to shut everything down,” Kenney said.

“The impact (of the 14-day quarantine period) has been enormous.

“We must find a way to bring back safe travel.”

Kenney said in 2020 international visitors will spend $3.5 billion in Alberta, a whopping decrease of 63% for the previous year.

He said currently, only 3% of Alberta cases have been as a result of international travel.

Kenney said it’s hoped the pilot project can be expanded to Edmonton’s airport early in the new year.

“This announcement is welcomed by WestJet. WestJet has been advocating for a science-based rapid testing solution to help safely ease the quarantine requirements. With our home and largest hub in Calgary, guests from the province will be the first to experience this extremely important trial as an alternative to a 14-day quarantine,” said Ed Sims, CEO of WestJet.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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