'We need the government of Canada to have our back': Kenney to appeal for help from Ottawa
CALGARY -- Premier Jason Kenney will take an "urgent message" to the First Ministers Meeting in Ottawa later this week, he said before departing for the nation's capital from the Calgary International Airport on Wednesday morning.
"We need the government of Canada to have our back at this time of an economic crisis in this province," he said.
"Back in 2008 and 2009, during the global financial crisis, we saw government around the world do extraordinary things to ensure economic stability, stability in financial markets here in Canada, ensuring the future of the auto sector and tens of thousands of jobs related to it in Ontario and Quebec's manufacturing sector.
"Well, Albertans expect at least that kind of help for the industry that has done more than any other to create jobs, wealth and opporuntity, government revuenued for social programs than any other, and that is Canada's energy industry."
Oil prices have fallen sharply in recent days as Saudi Arabia and Russia continue to be at odds about production cuts in a global economy already weakened by the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The price of crude oil fell by 30 per cent Monday morning in the biggest one-day decline since 1991. West Texas Intermediate dropped to US$31 a barrel, a decline of more than 24 per cent, before rebounding slightly, trading at just above $33 on Wednesday morning.
Kenney said he will ask for concrete actions from Ottawa to support the energy sector.
"Its not just a short, but it's a mid-term need to restore confidence in the industry," he said. "So an absolute guarantee that we will see the completion of Coastal GasLink and of Trans Mountain Expansion are essential.
He'll also ask for emergency support for those who are forced to self isolate due to the coronavirus.
“We don’t want anybody to feel that they have to go to work to make a paycheque if they are not necessarily health," he said.
"We want anybody who is feeling cold or flu symptoms to self isolate, call 811 in Alberta to get the advice on whether they need to be tested for the COVID-19 virus. We especially emphasize that point for people returning from abroad and so far all of the cases we know of in Alberta have come from travel abroad.”
Kenney has already convened an urgent economic panel, led by University of Calgary economist Dr. Jack Mintz, to provide expert advice on how to get through the oil price drop.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a "comprehensive" coronavirus response package on Parliament Hill on Wednesday morning, just hours before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the situation a pandemic.
Kenney has said his government is open to borrowing more to increase spending on infrastructure in an effort to create more jobs. What the province is not prepared to do, however, is considered implementing a sales tax.