Silence on the right and in the media about NDP role as Alberta adds an impressive 20,000 full-time jobs in March

Posted on April 17, 2017, 2:07 am
6 mins

PHOTOS: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who is not getting any credit for her economic successes from the Opposition or the media. Below: Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci; Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall; and University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe (CBC photo).

Alberta added an impressive 20,000 full-time jobs in March, according to Statistics Canada, suggesting the province’s resource-based economy is enjoying a significant rebound.

But will Premier Rachel Notley, Finance Minister Joe Ceci or any other member of Alberta’s New Democratic Government get any credit for this development from the Opposition and its mainstream media auxiliary? Don’t hold your breath.

Opponents of the government continue to repeat the same old claims about the state of the economy they were making a year ago, two years ago, and three years ago about PC premier Jim Prentice, pretty much word for word.

Meanwhile, next door in Saskatchewan – home of Premier Brad Wall, who a well-known Alberta right-wing Opposition figure not long ago declared to be the real leader of Western Canada – that province was shedding jobs in the same time period.

According to the same Statistics Canada report, employment declined in Saskatchewan by more than 5,000 jobs in March.

Since Saskatchewan’s economy like Alberta’s is resource dependent, this suggests that when it comes to real jobs for real people, Premier Notley’s approach of continuing to fund basic services and programs is more effective at keeping the economy ticking along than Mr. Wall’s ideologically driven austerity.

And since Saskatchewan’s economy measured by Gross Domestic Product as well as its share of the national GDP and its population is always about a quarter of Alberta’s, perhaps we could extrapolate that, all things being equal, if Saskatchewan were the same size as Alberta it would have lost about … 20,000 jobs.

On the other hand, the overall unemployment rate remains higher in Alberta – probably partly because so much of the Canadian oil industry is headquartered in Calgary and partly because more people are looking for work again now that the economy is perking up and there are more grounds for optimism here in Alberta. Nevertheless, that means there’s still something for opponents of Ms. Notley’s government to point to when the facts don’t support their narrative … for the moment, anyway.

Just the same, by any normal measure, the Alberta economy remains strong. “The Alberta economy as a whole is robust … certainly relative to other provinces,” University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe recently told a Postmedia reporter, who buried the good news, but at least covered it. “I’d still say it’s the strongest economy in Canada.”

For its part, the federal statistics agency noted: “Employment in the province has been on an upward trend since the autumn of 2016.”

Alberta’s recession this time has been shallower than it was in either 2008 or 1981, Dr. Tombe noted in a Tweet the day the Statistics Canada numbers came out – both earlier recessions took place while the Progressive Conservative Party was managing the economy.

Nor does the province’s expected debt-to-GDP ratio of about 7-per-cent seem like a problem by any economic yardstick, despite the Opposition’s best efforts to raise debate to a hysterical pitch over the size of the provincial debt.

Alberta’s two main conservative opposition parties, and to a significant degree the mainstream media, have spent the past two years loudly and continually denouncing the NDP for the economic conditions the province faced – even though the most significant factor, the impact of the international price of oil on our historically one-note economy, was well beyond the provincial or even the federal government’s control.

Now that the measures they have taken seem to be bearing some fruit, conservatives appear to have nothing much to say about this situation and the media has gone very, very quiet. The conservative parties, at least, have an excuse, being focused as they are on their efforts to join together in a tiny-tent social-conservative-dominated Frankenparty.

They’re bound to argue the good economic news is all caused by factors outside Alberta, and has nothing to do with NDP policies – in other words, the only thing consistent about conservatives is their ideologically driven inconsistency.

For its part, the energy industry seems to be quietly supportive of what the Notley Government has been doing, which may also account for some conservative discomfort with the issue.

Indeed, the Alberta government’s most effective critics nowadays, if not its loudest ones, may be found in the environmental movement.

Meanwhile, the orange-clad Edmonton Oilers are back in the National Hockey League playoffs for the first time since 2006. If they do better than the Calgary Flames, Wildrosers and PCs will presumably try to blame the NDP for that, too.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

22 Comments to: Silence on the right and in the media about NDP role as Alberta adds an impressive 20,000 full-time jobs in March

  1. Tommyboy

    April 17th, 2017

    Actually, if you follow the conservative parties logic in blaming Rachel Notley for singlehandedly bringing about a world commodity crash, then she should get credit for the fact both the Oilers and Flames are in the Playoffs, together, for the first time in a decade.

    Reply
  2. J.E. Molnar

    April 17th, 2017

    Opposition parties and Postmedia properties are clearly the nattering nabobs of negativism. Not only are full-time jobs being created to bolster the economy, but by all other economic indicators like earnings, manufacturing, house construction, oil production and service industry growth Alberta is doing quite well, thank you very much.

    The right is running scared. Its political leaders are underperforming in the Legislature and panicking to try and coalesce a fractured and unorganized right-wing movement. Rachel Notley and her government have been performing well, punching above their weight since they were elected (other leaders, not so much).

    Reply
    • Scotty on Denman

      April 17th, 2017

      Is the reference to the Alberta right “running scared,” “underperforming…and panicking” while trying to reassemble? The political right seems to be running scared all over the place, not just Alberta—just look at the federal Conservative or the American Republican races.

      Look at the BC Liberals, the farthest right of any Canadian government, embarking on a provincial election campaign where they will feature ad hominem smears of socialism, patently transparent falsehoods, and splashy-chirpy pie-in-the-sky promises like a trillion-dollar LNG industry—that is as yet totally non-existant. If they lose on on May 9, they’ll be running scared too. They runnin scared now.

      What is the right, ostensibly parties supported wealthy corporatists, running from, and where is it going to?

      My theory: the right peaked when Reaganism (and all the other right-wing ‘-isms’ that emulated it around the globe) unleashed rampant capitalism in the wake of the Soviet collapse. The Reaganaut bashing of freely organized labour unions was pretty traditional conservatism, but a number of new policies distinguished these nascent neo-rightists from their historical, pre-Great Depression counterparts who were parochial, militarily isolationist and trade-protectionists: for the first time since WW II, the terrestrial surface of the planet was almost entirely conquered by the globalization process—the mostly unclaimed oceans are depleted of fish and used as the
      world’s sewer, yet offshore drilling and a bit of submarine mining do claim a bit of 200-mile shelf; stateless corporatism has dominated development. Neo-rightism ( also confusingly called ‘neo-liberalsism’ and ‘neo-conservatism’) seeks to increase profits and opportunity by avoiding taxes regulations. The conservative parties that used to be home to national patriots, monarchical sovereigntists, and businessmen small and large, have subsequently been transformed, abandoned, usurped or reformed into the neo-right governments we’ve been subjected to for the last 30 years.

      The Republican party is a fractious, demoralized mess; so are the federal Conservatives, and Ontario and Alberta PCs. Why, after having their way for over three decades, are neo-right parties looking so wobbly?

      The main reason is the prosperity and jobs neo-rightist politicians promised has not materialized. Meanwhile, the world that globalizers created to keep profits up—by dodging taxes and regulations, and by availing low-wage workers in desperately poor nations— has also become more expensive to live in for the middle-classes in wealthy countries; there are also fewer services to help; most disturbing of globalization’s consequences is any practically irreversible environmental damage already done. The prevalence of refugees of war and famine related to pollution-caused global warming, impoverishment and disparity are all getting too hard to ignore; unfettered, globalized capitalism is getting too hard to sell. Even many conservatives pine for earlier days, before unpredictably extreme weather, before the deregulation of democratic controls over polluting industry, before globalizing capitalists sold them a pig in a poke. The striking result: most conservatives wish there was somebody other than today’s neo-right parties to vote for.

      Running scared? With easy-lifting resource exploitation gone, with natural attrition and disaffections of tory conservatives weakening its political wing, and with the internet audience abandoning its mainstream news-media wing, you bet the stateless corporatists for which these diminishings are an existential deprivation are running scared—besides, they don’t have a wing to fly on except for the rather gimped far-right one—otherwise they’d be flying scared. Judging by the CPC leadership race, it’s just as well they’re not flying so high anymore: the ground’s getting closer. The engines are cutting out. They’re gliding now.

      The neo-right’s fiscal recommendations have exacted social sacrifices for which there is no discernible reward for most people, and it’s environmental reputation is infamously poor; fiscal positions like tories used to garner votes with, and environmental platitude are no no longer credible options to campaign on, the field devolving to more purely demagogic issues, the dog-whistles of immigration and family values.

      In a sense, Canadian conservatives probably occupy one of the biggest political tents, but only because it’s spread over several parties. This partisan irredenta is probably bigger than any of the nominal parties of the right. Putting fugitive tories back into one party is fraught with problems because the moderates (existing mostly in irredenta) who can entertain both thoughts at once that vigilance against potential government excess does not preclude addressing urgent environmental and administrative crises, simply cannot tolerate far right-wingers who, being of demagogic organization, have been trained to shun and detest the mere notion of climate change. What was once the fringe of conservatism now owns the name, and the majority of conservatives of simple fiscal prudence vote for other parties, if at all.

      If there was a party, irrespective of it’s name, that only espoused fiscal prudence—and even law-and-order—it’d probably do okay, cloistered conservatives would come running; maybe running scared—but at least toward it. That’s how bad the far right stinks up the joint, all the more potently because it happens to be the wunderkind of neo-right profiteers at the moment. But since it and its benefactors have picked climate change as the hill to die on, it can’t woo natural conservatives who happen to be concerned about nature.

      Kenney’s cut from the Harper block which failed in its real neo-right agenda its multinational corporatist supporters wanted as much its ostensible “conservative” agenda its constituency wanted. Manning availed grassroots hicks to undercut Mulroney every bit as Bouchard did with Quebec nationalists, two federates destroying the pan-Canadian Progressive Conservatives that represented tories all over Canada, even in Alberta and Quebec. The pieces have never been successfully reassembled yet. Failure to recruit younger members to any faction of the right is the final nail. End Times. A grotesque dispepsia

      Reply
  3. Val

    April 17th, 2017

    how this 20 000, returned to employment is related to provincial government and NDP policies?
    slight rebound in oil sector + between 1 and 2 thousands to rebuild Fort McMurray opened some vacancies, that’s all. it’s not NEW jobs but only some of returned from previously lost 67 900 (Alberta EI recipients in 2016).
    there are nothing, Ms. Notley or her government or party has influence or control over.

    Reply
    • AS

      April 17th, 2017

      Fair enough; likewise, they were not responsible for job losses earlier in the downturn. What they *are* responsible for is not deepening the recession by laying off thousands of public sector workers and cancelling capital projects; i.e., they are responsible for making the recession less severe than it would have been under Conservative or WRP stewardship.

      Reply
    • Rich

      April 17th, 2017

      I hope you are not one of them that blamed her when they were lost then. Can’t have it both ways.

      Reply
    • Northern Loon

      April 17th, 2017

      So, by Val logic, the NDP policies (and just their existence) makes them responsible for all job losses, but that same government and the same policies are immaterial to 20,000 jobs being added or returned to the Alberta economy.

      “Right wing logic”?

      Reply
    • Art

      April 17th, 2017

      The TD Bank gives credit to the Notley government for pulling Alberta out of the downturn faster than Saskatchewan.

      “TD says part of the reason Alberta’s economy is rebounding faster and stronger than Saskatchewan’s economy from recessions caused by the oil price downturn is the government of Alberta has been stimulus budgeting while the government of Saskatchewan raised and expanded the provincial sales tax and cut spending in their recent budget.”

      https://wonkeh.blog/2017/03/29/canadian-provincial-economic-forecast-in-three-graphs-and-one-table/

      Reply
    • April 17th, 2017

      As always, whenever something good happens, it would have happened anyway. When something bad happens it is entirely tied to NDP policy.

      Reply
  4. Dave Lindsay

    April 17th, 2017

    Oilers are in the Play Offs ! Must be NDP’s Fault ! LOL !

    Reply
  5. David

    April 17th, 2017

    As the saying goes, it is always darkest before the dawn and late 2016 things in Alberta seemed fairly bleak economically. A few months ago, Finance Minister Ceci was mocked by many on the right and by journalists for talking about green shoots. After the announcement of the increase in jobs by 20,000 he must be enjoying the humble silence of many of his recent critics.

    It would be interesting if at some point in the next year or so Alberta’s recovery passes that of Saskatchewan, which is now being held back greatly by government austerity. There are already a lot of unhappy grumblings from Saskatchewan which the Alberta right wing and their friends in the media are so far trying to ignore. Funny, they don’t seem to talk much about Saskatchewan any more either.

    If the economy continues to recover over the next few years it will take away the strongest talking point of the right wing. No wonder they now seem to want to talk about GSA’s instead or like Jason Kenney, just disappear from public view. They have worked so hard to blame the government for the economic downturn which was primarily due to low oil prices, and fix that point in the public mind, so the boomerang effect is if the economy recovers guess who gets the credit.

    Reply
  6. Brian neabel

    April 17th, 2017

    Negative again,you conservatives can’t admit that you were one of the main problems of the crash, and now Sask. Is following the path, only we will be worse with our beloved leader we can’t get rid of for 3 years , who knows what shape our province will be in by the end of his fiasco.

    Reply
  7. pogo

    April 17th, 2017

    As you slowly edge toward election “out there” in Alberta I’d like to remind everyone who reads this under appreciated blog, that Postmedia (Franken-leiche mein heir?) should be viewed as a diseased information delivery vector. Inoculate yourself and others by keeping an eye on them. If you’re feeling energetic refute their usually lazy and poorly informed arguments. If you’re really up for it, donate and volunteer, because if those guys (yup, mostly guys) win the next election, it’s open season on sensible fiscal, social and environmental policy. I’m copying a link to just the dailies. Many more are dripping that massaged reality into community and regional door drop papers. http://www.postmedia.com/brands/dailies/ Bonus track: https://youtu.be/h2mabTnMHe8

    Reply
  8. Athabascan

    April 17th, 2017

    Yeah, 20,000 jobs!

    One more reason why it is better to live in Notley’s Alberta than Wall’s Saskatchewan.

    Let’s hope our friends in Saskatchewan see the light and toss Brad Wall out of office. Only then will their economy improve.

    Reply
  9. Name

    April 17th, 2017

    wow left much?

    Reply
  10. John

    April 17th, 2017

    Of course she won’t get any credit but then she shouldn’t have gotten the blame when oil industry jobs cratered due to forces outside of her control.

    Spending money when times are tough and saving when times are good are sound policy…unless you are ideologically driven as the right of center parties are for the most part.

    Reply
  11. Cheyenne

    April 17th, 2017

    I am dubious of the ‘alternative math’ with that figure of 20,000 jobs. Calgary’s cost of living is very high – rent, gas, electricity and heat – are all ridiculously expensive. In this new jobs a huge portion are service and retail indus try. Wages in both of those industrise don’t pay enough to live comfortably here. Far from it. So it’s hard to see that figure as impressive.
    The brain drain in Alberta has been massive. Skilled professionals and workers have been leaving the province. Jobs paying $70K+ are almost non-existent.
    No tell isn’t the root of all evil as some are complaining. But the entire carbon tax program as bullshit and an additional burden to Albertans. I wish the writer of this article would have also talked to people who are not in government or statistics. Talk to the average person and find out how Albertans are really doing. We’re hurting. Trust me.

    Reply
  12. Brogan

    April 17th, 2017

    It’s like a law of physics, I’ve witnessed it so many times; conservative policies cause unemployment and poverty while enriching a small group of spoiled assholes. Progressive governments build economies to benefit all the public.

    Reply
  13. April 17th, 2017

    The NDP is partly to blame for this information not getting out. They need to blow their horn more frequently and louder.

    Reply
  14. PB43

    April 17th, 2017

    All Government hires. No net gain. Government jobs cost tax payer dollars. Net drain on Alberta GDP. No change in Oil/Gas. Drilling down. Rig count operating 50% of Rig force or 375 Drill rigs this winter. No gain. Until $75.00/oil. With USA Rig force up to 600 rigs there will be glut oil supply. Oil price drop $40.00 or less. No storage. Good luck Alberta Recovery.

    Reply
  15. The dude

    April 20th, 2017

    You cannot count just one month and yell success. That same Statistics Canada report (March 2017) shows that there has been a loss of 16,500 full time jobs over the past twelve months (including the gain of 20,700 in March). I’m okay with the NDP but deceptive online information like this is a disgrace.

    Reply
  16. J

    April 20th, 2017

    With no surprise based on the author this post is quite opinionated and partisan toward the NDP, particularly considering this is supposed to be a website intended to discuss politics and enlighten its viewers. If the intent is to become a trusted reporter having a reoccurring fan base then one might suggest putting more value into the use of words and try to come across impartial (especially when using public viewable data). Rightly, one can and should apply pressure to government but this should be true to all forms of governments. Furthermore, opinionated statements such as “the only thing consistent about conservatives is their ideologically driven inconsistency” and some of the other colorful language used in this post does not support the argument at hand and therefore I would suggest refraining from such use. This is of course unless you wish to continue to seek views and likes by using one sided and controversial rants to gain temporary acknowledgement from extreme leftists that are uninformed to specific statistics, facts, economics, and current events (no thanks to one-sided reporters such as yourself and oh so many others that plague society).

    As for a few of the statistics in this post, indeed Alberta did gain 20,400 jobs between February and March however this is still a decrease of 1600 jobs from the total number of residents employed during March last year. In addition, many of the 20,400 jobs are seasonal fulltime positions such as construction workers, park employees, internships, and others alike. With this being said, this “perking up” cannot be correlated directly to economic effectiveness of governance nor can it be considered a “normal measure” to grade if Alberta’s economy is or is not strong. This is especially true when Alberta received an increase of 16,700 jobs during March last year only to lose 19,300 jobs a month later. Overall Alberta’s unemployment rate remains unfavorable with employment being down 16,500 fulltime jobs compared to March last year. I will repeat that to make sure everyone grasps the point that 16,500 willing and able Albertan residents that were working fulltime last year are now unemployed or cannot find fulltime employment. This is not some random statistic I found from the depths of the internet or some questionable source; it is from the very source you are trying to quote and used to create this post. To further hit this home, Alberta seen an increase of ~27,200 residents over the last year (0.64% increase in residency) all while only being able to secure jobs for 5.9% of these new residents, this includes part time jobs. In contrast, Saskatchewan moved 3200 part time workers into fulltime positions since March last year, all while creating an additional 2200 fulltime jobs. Not to mention that Saskatchewan was able to provide an employment rate of 26.0% for the ~7700 new residents to Saskatchewan (0.67% increase in residency) over the last year. With this, I will state plainly and bluntly that you cannot correlate the creation of jobs from one month to another with the effectiveness of a government and its officials (especially over such a small timespan such as a month). Nor would you want to make this correlation since statistically (historically and over the last month) Saskatchewan (governed by Premier Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party) has experienced a more favorable and sustainable trend in comparison to Alberta (governed by Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP). Nevertheless, the author was right about one thing… Alberta’s NDP will not be getting any credit for its “development” from the opposition. Sincerely, an informed follower of the opposition.

    Reply

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