Despair & disrepair: the UCP record on the Economy

Alberta is in despair and disrepair. But it doesn’t have to be.

Jason Kenney and the Alberta UCP rode to a dominant victor in the spring 2019 election on a promise to deliver jobs, economy, pipelines, and a balanced budget.

In my last piece I examined the UCP record on jobs. In this piece I’m going to put the promise to deliver economic growth under the microscope. 

There are several methods to look at economic growth. Most frequently, Gross Domestic Product is the measure you’ll see used. 

The Government of Alberta publishes a fantastic dashboard that includes other indicators including measures of business, migration, wages, energy and real estate development and more. 

I highly recommend if you’re nerdy like me that you subscribe to their updates. 

I’ve attached a few screengrabs of the latest data here.

Here you can see Alberta’s GDP over the previous ten years – with the red line indicating the start of the UCP’s government. Granted, Covid19 is hampering economic activity, that slide didn’t start at the outset of Covid19, but it almost perfectly coincides with the start of the UCP’s tenure. 

The GDP of the province started a steep decline that coincides with the transition of power to the UCP government.

All provinces and jurisdictions are facing the impacts that Covid19 has had on their economic activity and growth. So, there’s benefit in looking at where we rank compared to our peers. This chart shows Alberta’s ranking against itself over the previous ten years, as well as our ranking against the other provinces. 

The Government of Alberta’s own economic dashboard that compares its record against the ten year average and other provinces.

As you can see here, the only areas we’re doing well against our ten-year trend is in Natural Gas Prices and MLS sales values.  

What’s really telling though is our provincial rankings, where we find ourselves in the bottom 50% for all but one indicator, and the majority we are in the bottom three. This gives us an apples-to-apples comparison against comparator provinces and highlights the impact that different policy choices are having on our economic performances in the Canadian context. 

With the UCP having bet heavily on an oil and gas resurgence, cutting other diversification programs and support for post-secondary and innovation incentives has backfired spectacularly. 

It appears that they’ve finally acknowledged that diversification is not a luxury we can’t afford, but will it be too little too late? 

Only time will tell, but at this stage, it’s clear that they’ve created instability and hesitation towards doing business in Alberta, and the economy has suffered more than it should or had to as a result. 

Sorry, Premier Kenney, on economy you also get an F so far. 

Robbie Kreger-Smith is a consultant for restaurants, communications, and marketing with previous partisan political experience in Alberta.

Connect: @RKSAlberta

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