Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann issue statement after reports Prime Minister Trudeau will consider rail car purchase and enhanced employment insurance benefits to help Alberta.
Khan stated, “We congratulate Prime Minister Trudeau for his willingness to consider funding Alberta rail car purchases to boost oil shipments to international markets. We are also pleased that he will look at temporarily extending employment insurance (“EI”) benefits for laid-off Alberta workers. These two measures will help Albertans enjoy a Merry Christmas.
“Alberta’s energy sector has been hit hard. Albertans need help. The oil price differential and new mandated production cuts could lead to more layoffs, with Alberta’s GDP growth predicted to be slashed by up to 50% next year. Calgary’s unemployment rate is already a staggering 8.4%. We must do all we can to help our workers through this troubling time. The Federal Liberal Government will deliver that help, and we appreciate that effort.
“The proposal to purchase more rail cars could move 120,000 barrels of Alberta oil to ease pipeline bottlenecks. That increased daily volume will access higher world oil prices which will provide more revenue to pay for social programs in Alberta. It is a medium-term solution, and not a replacement for the Trans Mountain expansion, but it is a step in the right direction.
“The enhanced EI benefits will assist Albertans who lost their jobs due to the oil price crisis. It could mean extra benefits and reduce requirements to qualify for these benefits. The benefits boost is needed by Albertans struggling during this economic downturn.”
Swann stated, “Alberta Liberals first called on the Federal Government to reinstate enhanced EI benefits on Sunday, Dec. 2. I renewed our call in Question Period in the Alberta Legislature on Tuesday, Dec. 4. On Wednesday, Dec. 5, we called on Premier Notley to deliver our message to the Prime Minister personally at the First Ministers’ Meeting this weekend.”
Khan added, “In 2016, the Federal Government provided enhanced employment insurance benefits to unemployed Albertans. It extended EI benefits for unemployed workers for an additional five to 20 weeks, decreased wait times by 50%, and reduced eligibility requirements from 910 hours of insured employment to as little as 420 hours. It’s time for them to do so again. We’re asking the NDP Government to join with us in demanding this action. Prime Minister Trudeau must move faster than he did 3 years ago.
“We are pleased Prime Minister Trudeau has heard our message.”
David Khan and David Swann are available for interviews.