In recent years, The Parkland Institute has released research which confirms what many average Albertans already know first hand: middle class Albertans are no better off during so-called booms and Alberta’s poor often fare worse during these periods of frenzied development.
The Spoils of the Boom: Incomes, profits, and poverty in Alberta provides a close look at a cross-section of the Alberta economy to determine how the province’s dramatic economic growth is being distributed. The study finds that the benefits of the boom are being reaped by corporations and Alberta’s wealthy, while the poor and middle class are suffering.
Also from the Parkland Institute, Taming the Tempest: An Alternate Development Strategy for Alberta argues for a development strategy that manages Alberta’s resources to forward social goals. The report describes the societal issues created by mismanaged development, including inflation, soaring housing prices, costly infrastructure, and rising homelessness rates. The question is posed: Should private investment in the tar sands be and end in itself or harnessed to further social goals:
There is no question the bulk of this boom is being driven by fossil fuels and specifically investment in the province’s tar sands-over $100 billion of the $169 billion in projects slated for development is for the tar sands alone. The desirability of this level of private investment is not being questioned by the Alberta government; it is being seen as an end in itself. However, investment is not a goal; it should be considered a tool to be harnessed towards achieving social goals.Unlike Alberta, many oil rich regions have a framework to guide their resource development and this report shows that the Alberta government is under-selling the people’s resources.
The Parkland Institute lays a framework for a development strategy that would slow the pace of investment to minimize the boom and bust cycle, and put into place policies to maximize returns from Alberta’s fossil fuels, fuels, maximize the processing and upgrading of those resources into higher value products, and put into place a long term planfor using the resource revenues to guarantee future for the province.
Just as the protesters on Wall Street are demanding justice for an inequitable system that has left hard-working tax payers bailing out banks headed by billionaires, Calgarians are taking to the streets to ask why so many families are struggling in a resource-rich region, while foreign companies, as well as Canadian companies, are making huge profits off of our local resources.
Taming the Tempest: An Alternate Development Strategy for Alberta by Diana Gibson of the Parkland Institute