Winter is undoubtedly here in Red Deer, but there are certainly signs of life in our local economy as more people are getting back to work in the city.
In the past year, unemployment has dropped to an impressive 5.3 per cent, down from 8.1 per cent at this time last year. This is an even stronger performance than the provincial totals, which dropped to 7.8 per cent from 8.6 per cent this time last year. These figures come from the Alberta Labour Force Statistics report for October 2017, released last week.
To say this is good news for us is an understatement. It shows there’s significantly increased confidence in Alberta in general, and specifically right here in Central Alberta.
Of course this has a lot to do with market forces, just like the recession did, but I want to take a moment and say how proud I am that our government didn’t exacerbate the problem with cuts to essential services like education and healthcare. Albertans know they can count on our government to protect public services.
Not only have we protected public services, but we’ve worked hard to promote diversity in this province by supporting small businesses. Not only did we cut small-business taxes by one third, we’ve implement several grants and training programs that will help Alberta’s small businesses thrive.
Many of you work in the energy industry and I’m sympathetic to where you found yourselves over the last two years – much of my own family over the course of my life worked and had ties to the oil industry. While we couldn’t control the price of oil, we could control whether your husband, fiancée, son or daughter working in public service did have a job. A family with one income, be it a nurse or a teaching assistant, is much better than everyone in the house losing their job because of the downturn in the economy.
It was a tough decision to keep public spending stable during a time of decreased revenue when the Opposition parties called for deep and painful cuts, but it was the right thing to do to keep at least part of this province still working.
While many are upset at the deficit I ask you to consider the fact that we helped keep many families afloat, we helped students and patients have teachers and doctors, and we did our best with a terrible situation.
I look forward to seeing the unemployment rate in Red Deer and Alberta continue to drop, our projected growth rates being revised to show even better growth than originally forecasted, and Alberta continuing to lead the country in economic growth.
The deficit is a major issue for me and my government but protecting the services and jobs that this province relies on – especially in a time of need – is something we aren’t ashamed of.
We’re proud that we’ve got Albertans’ backs and we’re working to make their lives better. And we’ll continue with that work as our economy keeps growing.
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