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Thank you very much, Brad, to you and your team at Lafarge for welcoming us here to your shop.
And thanks for the good work that you do to help build Alberta every day, with a history of over a century in this province.
Lafarge, as you said, has a long history here and it is one of the economic foundations of our province.
Your company’s growth and success have been fueled by what we used to call the “Alberta Advantage.”
That was the province’s long-time and well-deserved reputation as a place to do business that welcomed private enterprise and investment.
And thought that those things were a virtue to be encouraged, not a vice to be punished.
There’s proof of that in the fact that over a third of your 6,000 employees nation-wide are located right here in Alberta.
And I’m very pleased to hear you want and hope to hire more.
That’s why Minister Toews and I are here this morning: To highlight one of the first actions that will be taken by Alberta’s new government to get Alberta back to work and show that we are open for business.
The Job Creation Tax Cut will be bill number three of the legislature that will convene next week.
And subject to the approval of the Legislature, I am pleased to announce today that on July 1 we will drop the general business tax rate from 12 to 11 per cent.
And then it will go from 11 to 10 per cent on January 1 of next year. It will drop a further one point on January 1, 2021. And then by January 1, 2022, the general business tax rate in Alberta will be eight points, that is to say, one-third lower than it is today.
So as of Canada Day, Alberta will have the lowest business tax rate in Canada.
And by the time we get to eight points, in 2022, we’ll be 45 per cent lower than the next highest tax rate in Canada, making this province a huge magnet for job-creating investment that will get our economy back to work.
The Job Creation Tax Cut, which was studied by two of Alberta’s leading economists, Jack Mintz and Bev Dahlby, is projected to create at least 55,000 full-time private sector jobs.
And grow our economy by up to $13 billion, increasing our per capita GDP by 6.5 per cent.
That means the average Albertan will be about six points wealthier, better off than they are today, as a result of the additional job-creating investment from the tax cut that we will introduce in the legislature next week and which will become effective on Canada Day.
This was one of the key commitments in our recent platform, which was endorsed by 55 per cent of Alberta voters.
Those voters, those Albertans, understand that we’ve fallen behind in competitiveness because of the 20 per cent increase in taxes on job creators, as well as many other tax increases and bigger red tape.
We ended up driving away billions of dollars in job-creating investment and going through four years of economic decline and stagnation.
We need to turn that around.
And this Job Creation Tax Cut, effective Canada Day, will help to reignite our economy.
The Job Creation Tax Cut is just one of the urgent economic initiatives that we’ll be taking this spring.
Minister Toews and other members of our cabinet are hard at work preparing several pieces of legislation, which will be outlined in the Throne Speech eight days from now.
They include bill number one, the Carbon Tax Repeal Act, which will immediately relieve $1.4 billion in taxes from Albertans, reducing the cost of living, reducing the cost of doing business and, it’s estimated, creating at least 6,000 full-time new jobs.
We are taking immediate action as well, to cut the burden of red tape on Alberta’s economy by one-third. And I can tell you that at our very first Cabinet meeting two weeks ago, we already began that work. And it’s well under way.
The goal there is to move Alberta from being the most over-regulated economy in Canada, with the slowest approvals, to the freest and fastest moving economy in Canada.
We’ll also be taking further immediate action to stimulate job creation with bill number two in the legislature that begins next week.
That’s the Open for Business Act, which will restore fairness and balance to the workplace, and that will again make Alberta a magnet for job-creating investment.
These combined efforts are all designed to restore investor confidence and stimulate a surge of job creation. They’ll also help to reverse the flow of investment and jobs to the United States that we’ve seen over recent years.
You know, in 2017, the Americans introduced massive reductions in taxes on businesses, making Alberta and Canada much less competitive.
We currently have higher business taxes than virtually all U.S. states when you combine the federal and state levels there and the federal-provincial level here.
But after the Job Creation Tax Cut, bill number three, is fully implemented, Alberta will have lower taxes on new business investment than do 44 of the 50 U.S. states.
We will reverse the flow of investment from going south of the border to going north of the border to Alberta.
This is a message that I spread in Toronto on Bay Street, just three days after having been sworn in as Premier, at a speech to the Canadian Club where I received several standing ovations from that very staid downtown Toronto business crowd.
In announcing these measures that we will be taking, I actually told people in that room to go back and talk to their CFOs, to get out their calculators and come up with how much they could save their shareholders by moving business operations here to Alberta.
And I’m pleased to tell you that we had a phenomenal response from that trip.
And I’ll be going back to Toronto to meet with Bay Street investors on May 24, to continue to attract investment to Alberta as a result of these big policy changes.
Just this morning I was speaking to representatives of WestJet and the Toronto-based holding company Onex that announced a very important investment in that Alberta-based company today.
And the representative for Onex told me that their major investment in WestJet is partly a decision by that company, Onex, to bet on Alberta after I mentioned the Job Creation Tax Cut.
So we’re already seeing capital and investment respond to these policy signals that we are sending to create jobs.
So we’re here today to amplify this message of Alberta open for business here at this great Alberta company, Lafarge.
I want to thank you again, Brad, for giving us this opportunity to spread the message at this great Alberta employer.
And I’ll now hand it over to our new Finance Minister Travis Toews.