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Council makes recommendations to Fair Deal Panel

Last Updated Feb 25, 2020 at 10:41 pm MDT

PHOTO. RMWB Council meeting from Feb. 25, 2020. MYMCMURRAY/Phil Wood

At the Feb. 25 meeting, RMWB Council voted to make a formal submission of recommendations to Alberta’s Fair Deal Panel.

Introduced by Mayor Don Scott on Feb. 11, the motion received unanimous support.

The panel is currently accepting formal submissions from municipalities within the province.

Mayor Don Scott said recent events involving resource development highlight the importance of getting a better deal for Albertans.

“We want to make sure other parts of Canada recognize the contributions of Alberta, and the letter we’re going to be sending to Fair Deal Committee has four key elements. We want to make sure every province understands that they are getting a benefit from the oilsands.”

He added the Council-endorsed letter would carry more weight.

It discusses Indigenous procurement, tax deductions, a national centre for fossil fuel development, and the annual municipalities conference.

Key elements

The first recommendation is for the provincial government to attend the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference in Toronto.

Mayor Scott said it would be an opportunity to educate other municipalities on the importance of the oilsands.

“Additionally, other municipalities should be educated on the level of investment the oilsands industry commit to innovation and technology to support responsible resource development.”

He added other municipalities should know about the level of economic participation from Indigenous communities in Wood Buffalo.

Mayor Don Scott called the region a centre of excellence for Indigenous business in Canada.

Another element in the formal submission calls for reconfirmation on the five per cent goal on Indigenous procurement.

The Mayor said encouraging the federal and provincial government to include the spending goal would continue to support Indigenous enterprises.

Another of his recommendations calls for a National Centre for Cleaner Fossil Fuels.

Connected to Keyano College, Mayor Don Scott said it would attract research collaboration from Canadian universities and the world.

He estimated the ask for the centre at $100-million over five years matched by the province.

Incentives and tax deductions

Mayor Don Scott also recommends Alberta re-evaluates its tax deductions for out-of-province labour.

He said provinces, who may criticize the oilsands, react with surprise at how much revenue it generates and how many workers travel to work in the region.

“If they realize what portion comes from the oilsands, they are going to be a lot more supportive of the oilsands.”

He suggests checking the numbers and encouraging Alberta to incentivize businesses to hire within Alberta and within Wood Buffalo.

Councillor Mike Allen formerly served on the province’s Treasury Board.

He said the tax situation won’t be an easy fix as income tax is a federal jurisdiction.

“If there is some way for the province to work on finding incentives for employment to be given a preference to those that live in Alberta, it not only helps benefit Albertans that are out of work, but it would raise the taxes in provincial personal income tax.”

Workers from outside of Alberta currently take their income back to their home province but spend that money and pay taxes there.

Mayor Don Scott said the region lost a significant amount of jobs last month.

“We lost 1100 jobs last month, and at the same time had people flying in from all over Canada to this region. There’s something not quite right about that.”

He added more Albertans and residents from Fort McMurray need jobs.

The province’s Fair Deal Panel also includes Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao.

A final report from the Fair Deal Panel to the government of Alberta is due March 31, 2020.

RMWB Council voted to defer the introduction of a motion to look at parking fine costs to March 10, 2020.