​No direct help for struggling oil and gas in Ottawa’s fiscal update

Image: Flickr/Justin Trudeau

CALGARY — Alberta's finance minister says Ottawa's latest fiscal update shows the federal government doesn't appreciate how badly the price squeeze on western Canadian crude is hurting the Canadian economy.

“It's clear the federal government's not speaking the same economic language of Albertans,” Joe Ceci said Wednesday. “Ottawa is living in a different economic planet.”

Ceci said he was disappointed the fall economic statement included no actions to help Alberta oil producers narrow the price gap between their product and U.S. light crude — around a staggering $45 a barrel recently.

He said Ottawa has not demonstrated a clear understanding of the economic damage caused by the failure to build new pipelines to coastal waters, enabling exports outside the United States.

“We face a critical time for Canada's energy sector and until our market access issues are addressed, the national economy will continue to forfeit billions to the American economy,” Ceci said.

“This update does not address one of the biggest concerns Albertans have — getting fair value for our non-renewable resources.”

Last month, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley proposed Ottawa invest in moving oil to market on rail cars as a stop-gap measure to relieve some of the landlocked oil glut until new pipelines come into operation.

Ceci said he would have liked to see a mention of crude-by-rail in the economic statement.

But he said there could be more information on that matter as soon as Thursday, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to visit Calgary.

“We're busily working to get those numbers together.”

Ceci said he is pleased with measures included in the fiscal update to allow manufacturers to write off certain capital costs immediately. It was something Ceci pitched in a letter to his federal counterpart.

“This improves our competitiveness and is a win for Alberta workers and companies,” Ceci said. “I’m pleased the federal government listened to our advice and took action.”

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