Labour group contests bitumen bubble claim

The premier's claim that Alberta's financial woes are because of a bitumen bubble is being challenged by a provincial labour group.

The bitumen bubble refers to the growing gap between the price Alberta gets for its oil and the North American benchmark, West Texas Intermediate Crude.

Last week, the premier said the bubble will cost Alberta $6 billion in resource revenue in the coming fiscal year.

The Alberta Federation of Labour disagrees with Alison Redford's comments saying it believes the real causes of the budget crisis are royalty giveaways, tax cuts for the weather and a lack of provincial upgrading strategies.

"They've been using the differential as an excuse to explain why the province is running a deficit when the real problem is frankly that we have a broken system for taxes and royalties," said Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour.

McGowan says the AFL would like to see the government take advantage of the bubble to create opportunities for Albertans.

"The differential, far from being a disaster for Alberta, actually represents a unique and important opportunity for us to build the kind of energy future that most Albertans support and that's a future that's characterized by more Alberta-based upgrading which would create more jobs here in Alberta as opposed to sending down the pipeline to places like the United States and increasingly China," said McGowan.

The AFL says it believes 12,000 stable jobs could be created in Alberta if the province commits to upgrading our oil at home rather than sending it abroad.

CTV News, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013

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