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Alberta launches program to attract petrochemical investment

But the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is slamming the plan, in part, because of its lack of a cap.

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The UCP has announced a massive new incentive programs with the hope of attracting petrochemical companies to Alberta.

But the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is slamming the plan, in part, because of its lack of a cap.

The province claims the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program (APIP) will help attract billions in petrochemical project investments and continue to diversify the province’s economy while drawing directly on our abundant reserves of natural gas.

“The goal is to aggressively compete with several jurisdictions across Asia, the Middle East, and those in the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, many of which also offer similar incentives for petrochemical manufacturers, to become a global destination for petrochemical investment,” the province said in Friday release.

“According to Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, there is an opportunity to grow Alberta’s petrochemical sector by more than $30 billion by 2030, resulting in more than 90,000 direct and indirect jobs over the construction and operations of new facilities, and more than $10 billion in revenue for the Government of Alberta from corporate and personal income taxes.”

APIP offers a direct financial incentive on new petrochemical or fertilizer facilities, or on expansions to existing ones.

Once a project is up and running, companies that have successfully applied will receive grants worth 12 per cent of their eligible capital costs.

The grant will be issued in the final step in the process, ensuring that only projects already built and employing Albertans receive funds, said the release

Prior to the grant, companies will need to show their project meets the program requirements by detailing the scope and expected cost of the project.

The application window for small projects (between $50 million and $150 million in capital costs) will be open for five years. Applications for larger projects will be open for 10 years.

Projects eligible for the program must have a minimum $50 million in capital investment, consume natural gas, natural gas liquids or petrochemical intermediaries, create new and permanent jobs in Alberta and meet the federally set definition of a manufacturing and processing facility.

There is no cap to the program, but the government will report on expected costs each fiscal year, based on applications received and projects approved.

“Today we’re adding another incentive to Alberta’s already world-class opportunities for petrochemical development. On top of our existing petrochemical producers and all the companies that feed in and support them, we have a multi-generational supply of natural gas, an experienced workforce, and one of the lowest tax rates in North America. By launching this program, Alberta moves towards achieving the goal of becoming one of the most attractive investment opportunities for petrochemicals in the world.,” said Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is slamming the government for failing to put a cap on the program.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to sign a blank cheque for the petrochemical industry,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta Director.

“It’s bad enough that taxpayers are already paying for one bad petrochemical subsidy, but it’s completely unacceptable for Premier Jason Kenney to let another petrochemical subsidy to be rolled out without a cap on taxpayer costs.”

The APIP is in addition to the current Petrochemicals Diversification Program, which costs taxpayers $1.1 billion.

The CTF obtained a leaked briefing note produced by Treasury Board and Finance officials warning former finance minister Joe Ceci about the risks associated with subsidies for the petrochemical industry, which states: “the proposed incentive program cannot be justified on economic merit alone” and “there is no guarantee that the incentive program will actually lead to additional investment.”

“Kenney deserves credit for lowering the business tax rate so job creators can invest more of their own money into their business, but the government is taking a wrong turn by adding another petrochemical corporate welfare program on to the backs of struggling taxpayers,” said Terrazzano.

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 and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. 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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Bernier tickled with support from Trudeau’s half brother

“It’s very dangerous to speak like that, coming from the leader of a democratic country, you cannot speak like that,” said Bernier.

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People’s Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier was presently surprised on Friday to learn Justin Trudeau’s half-brother is cheering for the PPC.

During the presser, Bernier was told of the Western Standard‘s hour-long interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s half-brother Kyle Kemper who — among other things — called out Trudeau for his divisive speech towards unvaccinated Canadians.

During the interview, Kemper also showed support for the People’s Party of Canada.

When Bernier was asked how he felt about a Trudeau family member propping up the Purple Wave, he said he was “surprised to hear a member of the Trudeau family is cheering for the PPC” and said he agreed with Kemper that Trudeau has been divisive.

“It’s very dangerous to speak like that, coming from the leader of a democratic country, you cannot speak like that,” said Bernier.

“We, at the PPC, we want to unite everybody under the freedom umbrella. We don’t believe in division and segregation.

“This party is growing and I know that the mainstream media don’t like to cover the PPC because we are telling the truth based on facts and on science.”

In the Friday press conference, Bernier said he speaks for millions of Canadians with his one message to the government: “We want our lives back.”

Despite the vast majority of Canadian’s being vaccinated, Bernier showed frustration over the remaining COVID-19 measures, “from vaccine mandates to lockdowns and vaccine passports.”

The PPC leader also pointed to the recent lifting of mandates and restrictions in a number of European countries and elsewhere.

“Canada is becoming the outlier. Not only do we still have most of these measures in place, but some governments are planning to add more,” said Bernier referencing his home province of Quebec bringing in a “punitive tax” against the unvaccinated.

Bernier calls the “science” into question and suggested there is evidence the “authoritarian measures” have little to no effect on the spread of COVID-19 while imposing “massive negative economic and health impacts on the population.”  

“Both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated can catch and spread the virus. Vaccine passports are completely useless,” said Bernier.

Over the coming days, Bernier said he plans to join the trucker’s Freedom Convoy in Ottawa and support those protesting the vaccine mandate calling it a “blatant example of the unscientific approach adopted by the federal government.”

“Unvaccinated cross-border truckers have been providing an essential service to the Canadian economy for two years. That’s why they were exempt from the border closures,” said Bernier.

“They pose no threat to anyone. They’re alone in their trucks most of the time. There is no crisis because of sick truckers. So why are they suddenly being forced off the road with a new vaccine mandate?”

Calling Canada’s supply chain “more fragile than ever,” Bernier called the Canadian and US governments “irresponsible” and said there is no logic behind adding further needless disruptions.

“More and more Canadians, vaccinated and unvaccinated, want an end to this nightmare. The tide is turning. It’s time to stop living in fear and learn to live with this virus.”

Bernier followed with a list of requests for the Liberal government.

“First, repeal the vaccine mandates on federal employees and federally regulated industries,” said Bernier.

He also said he believes all civil servants, military personnel and government employees should be reinstated and federal regulated industries be instructed to rehire employees who were “unjustly fired.”

For those unjustly fired who don’t want to return to their former jobs, Bernier said they should be given “any severance package and unemployment benefits that a terminated employee normally receives.”

“Second, repeal all travel restrictions on planes, trains and boats for unvaccinated Canadians. These measures are useless and are a violation of our basic constitutional rights.

“Third, the government should stop bailing out provinces that devastate their economy with lockdowns, curfews, vaccine passports, and vaccine mandates.”

Bernier blamed the federal government for influencing provinces to implement COVID-19 measures with the “billions of dollars of borrowed and printed money sent by Ottawa through various programs.”

“Provincial governments should be responsible for their own decisions. If they want to impose destructive measures, they should be accountable to their own citizens,” said Bernier.

Bernier also took time to congratulate Conservative MPs including deputy leader Candice Bergen and Finance critic Pierre Poilievre who have opposed “the government’s authoritarian measures after two years of silence,” while accusing O’Toole of supporting Trudeau’s decisions throughout the pandemic.

Calling the Conservative Party of Canada a “morally and intellectually corrupt party,” Bernier suggested the “door is open” for any who would like to join the People’s Party.

Bernier said he is looking forward to the next general election and his opportunity to debate the other leaders on stage.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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AHS researched COVID manipulation tactics

Other studies linked being female and those with higher incomes with being more compliant while political conservatism was linked to those less compliant.

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An Alberta Health Services (AHS) document featuring the results of a number of studies focused on attitudes and adherence to COVID-19 guidelines has been obtained by the Western Standard.

The 63-page report dated September 2020 focused on factors that “impact attitudes towards or adherence to COVID-19 public health guidelines” and on “what interventions can create more positive attitudes towards following public health guidelines.”

It included data collected from 30 studies compiled from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand — jurisdictions considered to be somewhat similar to Alberta.

A list of key messages from the evidence summary include:

• Studies consistently show higher adherence to COVID-19 guidelines among people who (i) trust government or authorities; (ii) perceive the threat of the virus to be greater; (iii) have a greater knowledge of the pandemic, (iv) who are older; and (v) who identify as a woman.

• Accessing information through traditional news media (print; television; radio) is associated with greater guideline adherence, while use of social media is associated with a higher likelihood of endorsing conspiracy beliefs, factual misperceptions and lesser degrees of guideline adherence.

• Limited evidence suggests that distinct population groups may require distinct messaging to promote guideline adherence.

• No strategies for promoting adherence to public health COVID-19 guidelines have been robustly proven in the published scientific literature. The most promising strategies appear to be communications to increase knowledge about the pandemic and perceived threat of the virus. Moralistic messaging (e.g.linking physical distancing to being a good person/citizen) could produce problematic consequences such as ostracization of individuals who do not adhere to public health guidelines.

• As evidence on changing attitudes and behaviours related to COVID-19 is still emerging, medical and public health leaders may benefit from reviewing literature on attitude and behaviour change in other, more widely studied health and societal contexts (e.g., climate change, waste reduction, vaccination or smoking cessation) where theories and frameworks have been established.

Recommendations stemming from the study included targeting those with limited knowledge of the pandemic or those that weren’t convinced of the efficacy of public health guidelines as they are “more likely to exhibit consistently poor adherence.”

The groups identified in the study with the “higher risk of non-adherence” to the guidelines include “men, younger people, those who identify as politically conservative, and those who are prone to lower levels of trust in government or science.”

The study also recommended public health content be distributed on social media because “multiple studies found that social media users were less likely to be adherent to public health guidelines.”

The recommendations also suggested officials work with “behavioural scientists and experts in communication sciences” to craft public health messaging designed to influence behaviour change.

Other findings in the report said adherence to guidelines was related to individual characteristics such as narcissism, impulsiveness and agreeableness or societal characteristics such as individualism or collectivism.

A number of factors were listed categorizing their impact on attitude toward adherence to public health guidelines.

For instance, a greater trust in government or authority predicted greater compliance. Other studies linked being female and those with higher incomes with being more compliant while political conservatism was linked to those less compliant.

Also included in the report is a breakdown of how political affiliation affected people’s attitudes towards the virus and public health measures.

“They report that supporters of the Liberal Party are more likely to be very concerned about the virus (46%) than those who support the Conservative Party (39%), Bloc Quebecois (33%), and People’s Party of Canada (PPC) (29%),” said the report.

“Supporters of the Liberal, Green, and New Democratic Parties were slightly more likely to report making behaviour changes (making 63% of recommended changes, on average) than supporters of the Conservative Party (59% of changes), PPC (51%), and Bloc Quebecois (60%).”

A section on research gaps points to a number of important areas that have been “underexplored” including the impact of tailoring specific messaging to particular subgroups such as the Hutterite populations, First Nations Peoples and those experiencing homelessness.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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New collective agreement secures Alberta nurses as highest paid in Canada

UNA has filed more than 150 grievances on behalf of its members related to AHS’ Immunization or Testing of Workers for COVID-19 policy.

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Alberta Finance Travis Toews has announced Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) have ratified a new collective agreement that will see a 4.25% pay raise for Alberta nurses.

UNA said the new collective agreement involves more than 30,000 registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses, represented by 130 UNA locals. The pay raise — spread out over the four-year deal — will keep Alberta nurses among the highest paid in Canada.

“I am pleased to hear that registered nurses have voted to accept the mediator’s recommendation. This four-year labour agreement comes after many months of dedicated negotiations,” said Toews.

“Alberta’s nurses have played a critical role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re deeply appreciative of the role they have played in caring for our friends, families and neighbours over the past two difficult years.”

As part of the new collective agreement, UNA said nurses will receive a one-time lump payment of 1% in recognition of their pandemic efforts, as well as enhanced psychological and mental health supports. UNA also said semi-annual lump-sum payments will be convereted to the wage grid.

“I also applaud the parties in arriving at an agreement that recognizes and works to address the unique labour market realities facing Alberta and North America in the recruitment and retention of registered nurses,” said Toews.

The new agreement will allot $5 million annually to recruiting and retaining staff in rural and remote Alberta. It also comes with the creation of a union-employer provincial workload advisory committee with $2.5 million allocated to relocation assistance.

AHS President and CEO, Dr. Verna Yiu brought in a mandatory COVID-19 immunization plan or AHS staff late last year. Approximately 1,650 full-and part-time AHS staff were subsequently put on involuntary leave without pay for noncompliance.

AHS was forced to walk back the mandate by providing testing options for some staff after critical staffing shortages, particularly in rural Alberta. The agency’s website details province-wide notices of physician and volunteer shortages. Red alerts due to EMS staffing shortages are also on the rise.

UNA is has filed more than 150 grievances on behalf of its members related to AHS’ Immunization or Testing of Workers for COVID-19 policy.

UNA deemed the policy “unfair, unreasonable, and discriminatory, and inconsistent with the UNA-Multi-Employer Collective Agreement.”

Amber Gosselin is a reporter with the Western Standard.
agosselin@westernstandardonline.com


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