Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer, presented an update on the pandemic and the market trends and opportunities for Alberta, to the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce at their monthly meeting in May.
Schweitzer, who oversees the implementation of Alberta’s recovery plan, spoke on Alberta’s strengths and potential areas for growth, followed by a question and answer period with Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr.
He spoke about anticipating the easing of health restrictions in upcoming weeks and says that for the first time since 2104, there’s reason to be excited about what the province’s rebound is going to look like.
“Almost every indicator for Alberta is looking positive,” said Schweitzer.
Economists and banks are predicting Alberta will lead the country in GDP this year, he says.
A slowly recovering oil and gas industry and high prices for lumber and other traditional industries for Alberta are moving towards a strong second half of this year.
We will see stability and stable growth in oil and gas in the next little while, according to Schweitzer.
Alberta’s recovery plan has three pillars: low taxes, efficient government and talent.
– Keep taxes as low as possible in order to attract investment. Alberta’s corporate tax of eight per cent is the lowest in Canada.
– Efficient government. Spending per capita was an outlier in the country when the UCP first came into office. They estimate they have now reduced red tape on businesses by one third.
– Talent. Making sure Alberta has the work force with the training and skills set needed for now and the future.
Mayor Rick Bonnett thanked the minister for the update and asked for more support for small businesses.
Bonnett says he’s hearing it’s very tough to get approved and covered for the grant funding and asked if the province could work with the town to help small businesses.
“We know which ones are hurting,” said Bonnett.
Schweitzer says they’d consider working with the municipalities, and to “flag” them right away if they hear of any businesses having difficulties accessing supports.
He added that in most cases, money goes out in 10 days after an application for grants based on a drop of revenue of 30 per cent.
“I’m happy to follow up if you’ve identified local businesses having difficulties,” he said.
Orr added he’s been able to help a couple local business owners resolve issues and get funding.
‘There are, frankly, still a few that are falling through the cracks,” said Orr, adding to contact his office and he will help get the issue sorted out.
The chamber is moving ahead with their golf tournament, which is planned for July 9.
It is pending weather and COVID-19 restrictions and the date may still change.
“We’ll either move it or do a work-around,” said Destin Robinson, who is on the planning committee.
There will be prizes, seven hole sponsors, and a $25,00 hole-in-one prize sponsored by Battle River Insurance for the nine-hole tournament.
“Enter your teams — it’s going to be an awesome event,” said Destin.
To donate prizes or sponsor a hole, get in touch with Robinson or Heather Bendera.
The chamber welcomed new member Mission Thrift Store, and a semi-new member, No Frills, under new management.