Alberta MP questions Liberals on Alberta unemployment and equalization

Written By Guest User, Posted on July 8, 2020

Today in Ottawa at a meeting of the Special Committee on COVID-19, Conservative MP Arnold Viersen questioned the Liberal government on Alberta’s employment and equalization situation. 

Viesen got into a back and forth with Mona Fortier, the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, but was unable to extract very little in the way of substantive answers. The discussion went as follows: 

MP Viersen: “Thank you Madame Chair. Madame Chair, Canada’s unemployment rate is the highest in the G7. What is Canada’s unemployment rate?”

Hon. Mona Fortier: “Madame Speaker, currently we’re supporting Canadian workers and making sure our businesses are supported during this difficult time.”

MP Viersen: “May’s unemployment rate for Canada was 13.7%. What is Alberta’s unemployment rate?”

Minister Fortier: “Again, Madame Speaker, we have been putting every effort to make sure that we’re supporting Canadians during these very difficult times if they have lost their job or cannot work at this time, we have provided the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.”

MP Viersen: “Alberta’s unemployment rate is at 15.5%. How many days has it been since Alberta’s energy workers have been promised help?”

Minister Fortier: “Madame Minister, I can give you today very high-level information about what we have been doing for Canadians and this afternoon we will be giving a clearer picture and a snapshot on our economic fiscal agenda.”

After that exchange, Chrystia Freeland, the Deputy Prime Minister, started to reply to Viersen’s questioning. 

MP Viersen: “Madame Chair, how many years has it been since Alberta has received net equalization?”

Hon. Chrystia Freeland: “Mr. Speaker, all Albertans should be proud of the contribution Alberta and Albertans make to Canada’s economy. We know that Alberta and the energy sector are an essential part of the strength of our country”

MP Viersen: “45 years, Madame Speaker. What is the amount Alberta is short changed because of the cap on fiscal stabilization?”

Minister Freeland: “The question of fiscal stabilization and whether that is something that should be updated and modernized is a very good one. Bev Dolby has done economic research on that and it is something we’re looking into.”

MP Viersen: “Yes or no, will the government remove the cap on the fiscal stabilization program?”

Minister Freeland: “As I said, Madame Speaker, Bev Dolby has done excellent work on this. We’re looking carefully into it.”

Following this exchange, Viersen released a statement saying “Canada should be a country where some provinces are not favoured over others. Alberta needs a federal government that will fight for jobs in Alberta with the same passion it does in every region of Canada. But whether its pipelines, energy workers, or equalization this Liberal Prime Minister has shown time and again that he won’t stand up for Alberta.”

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