Alberta Minute: Unemployment Up, Debt Up, and an App Transparency Win
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
Transparency appears to still be a low priority for the provincial government as, once again, the Legislature is scheduled to sit this week but it's not clear whether they will do so or not. While it's understandable that schedules are irregular during an emergency, simple things like updating the Order Paper would go a long way to ensuring transparency and accountability are maintained.
- Currently, Bill 1 (the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act), Bill 2 (the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Amendment Act), and Bill 4 (the Fiscal Planning and Transparency (Fixed Budget Period) Amendment Act) are all still stuck at Second Reading.
- On Tuesday, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts is scheduled to meet regarding the Ministry of Seniors and Housing to review Office of the Auditor General's Outstanding Recommendations from the Ministry's 2018-19 Annual Report.
Last Week In Alberta:
- Alberta's unemployment rate rose to 13 percent in April with the loss of 243,800 jobs. Remember, this figure does not include anyone who has stopped looking for work, or anyone who is still technically "employed" but is working 0 hours a week, so the situation on the ground is likely far worse than the headline numbers suggest.
As unemployment rises, so does the provincial debt, a problem that is further compounded by the oil price drop. Alberta is now forecasting an astonishing $18-billion budget deficit this year - the largest in provincial government history. The Province must adopt a credible plan back to a net positive financial position, but so far policymakers in Edmonton have remained silent.
- After we raised concerns about the financial, practical, and privacy implications of Alberta's new ABTraceTogether app, the Province has agreed to our request that they release the source data for the app, allowing for the app to be verified by independent experts. While some privacy concerns still remain, this is a significant step that will help ensure the app only does exactly what the government claims it does. Further vigilance will be required, however, including each time the app is updated.
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