The next Alberta provincial election will take place on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. For producers, the next election is an opportunity for the interests of agriculture to reinforced by voting for your local candidate with the strongest background and most favourable policy positions in this area. Alberta Pork has previously covered electoral boundary changes and constituency characteristics.
Below are some specific issues of relevance to pork producers, along with some background information on party and candidate positions.
General policy positions related to agriculture
- Alberta Advantage Party: An Alberta Advantage government would “ensure that agricultural producers have the freedom to market their product in whatever quantity and where, when and to whatever buyer they wish” and “work with the federal government… to improve access to and the security of international markets for agricultural and food products.” See the Alberta Advantage Party platform.
- Alberta Independence Party: An Alberta Independence government would “[issue] an immediate referendum for the clear question of separation [from Canada]” and “ensure a flat tax rate, the lowest in North America.” See the Alberta Independence Party platform.
- Alberta Party: An Alberta Party government would “create strategies for implementation of value-added products and processing in forestry, agriculture, and other key industries in the province.” See the Alberta Party platform.
- Freedom Conservative Party: A Freedom Conservative government would “abolish all unnecessary controls over the economy” and “uphold the inalienable right to own and dispose of property.” See the Freedom Conservative Party platform.
- Green Party: A Green government would “support policies to keep agricultural lands in the hands of farmers and ranchers and to limit encroachment of towns and cities” and “seek to improve marketing options for farmers by encouraging competition.” See the Green Party platform.
- Liberal Party: A Liberal government would “work to expand market access for the agriculture industry” and “acknowledge the serious risks posed by chronic wasting disease [to the livestock and meat industry].” See the Liberal Party platform.
- New Democratic Party: The New Democrat government has pledged its support for the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), a framework designed to strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. See the New Democratic Party platform.
- United Conservative Party: A United Conservative government would “establish a set of predictable, stable land use and access rules for the agricultural industry” and “recognize the role that natural resource and agriculture sectors contribute to the resilience, livelihood, culture, long-term sustainability and growth of rural communities.” See the United Conservative Party platform.
Farm and ranch occupational health and safety
In 2016, the Government of Alberta introduced the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act—formerly known as Bill 6—to extend workplace legislation to farms and ranches. In 2017, the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act—formerly known as Bill 17—was introduced to propose amendments to the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code, affecting waged, non-family farm and ranch workers.
Taken together, producer response to this legislation has been mixed and evolving. Alberta Pork is a partner under AgSafe Alberta. Further health and safety clarifications were released at the end of 2018.
If elected, a United Conservative government will repeal Bill 6. To rebuild trust, they will immediately launch comprehensive consultations with farmers, ranchers, agricultural workers and others on how to best balance the unique economic pressures of farming with the need for a common sense, flexible farm safety regime.
The Alberta Advantage Party will allow farms to choose between private medical and disability insurance or WCB coverage for their employees. Other parties have not indicated whether they would seek to change the legislation.
As part of the Government of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, a carbon levy and rebates were imposed starting in 2016 to encourage Albertans to reduce carbon pollution from their cars and homes. A carbon levy is charged on all transportation and heating fuels that emit greenhouse gases when burned.
For producers, the carbon tax has meant adding to their cost of production primarily in the processes of drying grain for feed, heating barns and transporting animals.
A federal carbon tax went into effect on April 1, 2019 for all provinces without a provincial carbon tax, including Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. Alberta would revert to the federal tax if our provincial tax was repealed. The next Canadian federal election takes place on or before October 21, 2019, which could further change the situation.
The United Conservatives remain firm on their goal to scrap the carbon tax if elected, and the Alberta Advantage Party and Alberta Independence Party would similarly repeal the tax.
The Alberta Party proposes to keep the tax but create exemptions for homes, businesses, farms and non-profits. The Liberals will make the carbon tax revenue-neutral and adopt enhanced rebates for low-income Albertans.
While the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) is federally administered, the Government of Alberta does provide immigration and employment services under the Ministry of Labour. The agriculture industry across Canada is struggling to meet its labour needs, and program bureaucracy has been one of the major stumbling blocks in this area.
United Conservative leader Jason Kenney was Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration when the TFWP underwent substantial changes in 2013, complicating the application process for employers.
If elected, a United Conservative government will immediately launch consultations to develop the Alberta Advantage Immigration Strategy. The goal will be to end large backlogs, speed up processing times, proactively attract talented newcomers from overseas, welcome job-creating entrepreneurs and encourage settlement in rural Alberta. Last month, Jason Kenney vowed to bring in 10,000 newcomers a year to rural Alberta.
In 2017, the New Democrats held a position to ensure local workers are hired before temporary foreign workers. However, if elected, a New Democrat government will implement a Newcomer Paths to Employment Strategy to make sure newer Albertans are able to fully share in our prosperity, including a Newcomer Advocate, expanded bridging programs and a provincial government internship program. They will push the federal government to create more paths to permanent residency so more newcomers can make their homes here.
The Alberta Party would double the Alberta Small Business Deduction from $500,000 to $1 million, while retaining the 2% tax rate. This will give small businesses in Alberta incentive to grow and expand, leading to more economic activity and hiring.
The Liberals would help address shortages in the agriculture labour market by making immigration a high priority in labour programming and immigration policy in part through reforms to Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program ("AINP").
For more information on party platforms, visit the websites of the Alberta Advantage Party, Alberta Independence Party, Alberta Party, Freedom Conservative Party, Green Party, Liberal Party, New Democratic Party and United Conservative Party. Keep an eye out for upcoming Alberta Pork articles, and be sure to pay attention to news and social media leading up to the election.
If you would like more information on the 2019 Alberta provincial election, contact Andrew Heck, Communication Programs Coordinator, Alberta Pork by email at email@example.com or by phone at 780-491-3527, toll-free at 1-877-247-PORK (7675).