CALGARY — When the Alberta government sunk $1.3 billion of taxpayer money into the Keystone XL Pipeline, Premier Jason Kenney acknowledged the risk.
Now, the project is cancelled and the money is gone — money that could have been spent on a lot of other things.
“A lot of people are looking at what we could have done with health care, with education, public services and so forth, or even keeping the deficit from ballooning to the level that it has. I mean, it is a substantial amount of money,” said Lori Williams, an associate professor in Policy Studies at Mount Royal University.
Just a few examples of what the money could’ve gotten:
- At least 26,000 ventilators
- Millions of rapid COVID-19 tests
- About 433 million N-95 masks
- Grants of over $25,000 to 50,000 small businesses.
- Both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames
Overall, it’s 2.3 per cent of the province’s budget.
“It’s disappointing the province is losing their investment stake on that,” said Kent Fellows, an economist at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy. “Especially at a time when provincial budgets are what they are. You know, $1.3 billion is a non-trivial chunk of money.”
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Fellows says there is still an opportunity to recoup some losses — but he doesn’t expect a drastic change.
As for whether premier Jason Kenney will ever get a chance to make this kind of decision again, Williams says if he’s still premier in the next election, he’ll be challenged on his ability to manage finances.
“I think there are a lot of people that are putting where all of that $1.3 billion could have gone for the benefit of Albertans. I mean, this simply is wasted money, unfortunately.”