EDMONTON - The door is open much wider for temporary foreign workers in six construction jobs, and tradesmen from the U.S. can now pick up work permits at the airport, the federal immigration minister announced Monday.
But organized labour is worried Canadians may be left out if companies are no longer required to consider them first in six job categories.
At Alberta's request, the federal government has agreed to eliminate the requirement that an employer must prove that Canadians were not available (called a labour market opinion) in six job categories — welder, ironworker, carpenter, estimator, millwright and heavy duty equipment mechanic. Pipefitters have been coming for a year without a requirement for the LMO.
These are high-demand occupations and employers need to be able to recruit workers much faster to meet growing demand in the oilsands and in Edmonton, where the unemployment rate is 4.4 per cent, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.
Once inside the province, temporary workers will now be able to take jobs with other employers when their first contracts are over, Kenney said. Previously, foreign workers could not change employers.
Kenney said he had no concerns about eliminating the requirement for the LMO, a document outlining evidence of a shortage in a particular category of worker and proof the employer had advertised in Canada for workers but got no response.
Kenney stressed he would rely on the provincial government to keep an eye on trends in construction employment to determine if the shortage turns into an oversupply of labour in those categories.
Kenney said he doesn't think the federal government will be "so keen" to open the doors that wide in other areas, including for unskilled temporary foreign workers.
Temporary foreign workers must have job offers and documents to prove they are qualified in a trade before getting work permits.
The new rules will help companies recruit in the U.S., where many construction workers remain unemployed, Kenney said. U.S. workers can work for three weeks and spend a week back home — a pattern common for many Canadians working in the oilsands.
But Gil McGowan, head of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said it's a mistake to eliminate the LMO, the one check in the system that protected Canadian access to such jobs.
"We're troubled by this decision, which eliminates the checks and balance," said McGowan.
Alberta's non-union contractors gain a big advantage under the new system, he said. Along with elimination of the LMO, Prime Minister Stephen Harper three months ago announced foreign workers can be paid up to 15 per cent less than the going Canadian wage.
But union employers must abide by the collective agreement, said McGowan.
"This will help make foreign workers the first choice not the last resort," said McGowan.
"This is not about a labour shortage, it's a low wage strategy. This is mostly designed to give companies access to a big pool of construction labour in the U.S. that is desperate for jobs."
McGowan noted that half the companies looking for construction workers do not have apprenticeship training programs, and said those companies should not be allowed to bring in temporary workers.
"They don't want long-term solutions, they want quick fixes, and that's what Harper will give them."
Some parts of Canada have not recovered from the 2008 recession and unemployment remains high in parts of Eastern Canada, he said. "The federal government should be ashamed of itself given the high unemployment in some provinces."
Stephen Khan, Alberta's minister for enterprise and advanced education, said he's pleased with the new rules, which will create a fast track for six occupations by eliminating paperwork and weeks of waiting involved to obtain the LMO.
"We are engaging industry" to take a bigger role in recruiting labour, he said. "They can identify what they need and who they want."
Khan said he's not concerned there is no check in the system to make sure Canadians get first shot at the jobs. The government will be guided by "internal metrics" about the job market, he said.
"We have to make sure we stay ahead of the curve," said Khan.
In a meeting Monday with the Journal editorial board, Kenney noted there is high unemployment among aboriginal youth and up to 14 per cent of immigrants are jobless or chronically underemployed.
"I think employers have to do a lot more about skill training," he said.
Kenney said he is not considering extending permanent residency to temporary foreign workers, since that would add another 180,000 people to the 280,000 annually allowed into the country.
"If we were to grant residency to all, that would be 400,000 and I don't think that is sustainable."
The Edmonton Journal, July 16 2012
Byline: Sheila Pratt
EDMONTON - Thirty workers in Edmonton have been laid off by a company that was awarded a $1-billion government contract to upgrade light-armoured vehicles for the Canadian Forces.
Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan said employees at General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada's plant in Edmonton were escorted from the building last week as a result of the job cuts, and on Wednesday questioned Minister of Public Works and Government Services Rona Ambrose about it in the House of Commons.
In October, Ambrose participated in a high-profile announcement about the contract, which the government said would sustain 110 jobs at General Dynamics' support-services facility in Edmonton.
Without being specific, the MP for Edmonton-Spruce Grove, confirmed during question period that layoffs had occurred, and later Wednesday a spokesman for the company acknowledged temporary cutbacks have taken place.
Ken Yamashita, manager of corporate affairs for General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, said the layoffs are unrelated to the project to upgrade 550 LAV III combat vehicles. Workers who were laid off are expected to be rehired when the upgrading program begins later this year or early in 2013, Yamashita said.
Work is to be spread out between the company's facilities in Edmonton and London, Ont.
Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said Wednesday he had been alerted about impending layoffs at General Dynamics' local plant. As Duncan did in Ottawa, he questioned whether the government had done its due diligence before awarding the contract.
"What this goes to is the whole issue of what the government is doing, and how they are giving away taxpayers dollars," said Duncan, who is a New Democrat. "I thought the response I received (from Ambrose) was stunning.
"There should be accountability when it comes to taxpayers' dollars. It is our money."
Yamashita said the work that is currently being done in Edmonton is preparation for the upgrading project.
"All this is a temporary dip in employment," he said. "The jobs for the project are secure."
Edmonton Journal, Wed May 30 2012
Byline: Marty Klinkenberg
Mulcair has angered western premiers and the federal government for suggesting Canada's resource sector has caused an inflated dollar and cost thousands of manufacturing jobs in Central Canada.
"Instead of vilifying Thomas Mulcair, I think Albertans should be thanking him for igniting a long overdue debate about the pace of development in the oilsands and its downside both for Albertans and Canadians more broadly speaking," Gil McGowan said Wednesday after a speech to the Canadian Industrial Relations Association.
"It shouldn't be heresy for people to ask questions about whether or not the oilsands are being developed in an appropriate way," he added.
"It shouldn't be heresy to say instead of shipping raw bitumen down the pipeline we should be keeping it here and creating jobs in refining and upgrading."
McGowan said he's angry because for years anyone who has tried to raise legitimate concerns about oilsands development has been "shouted down."
"Every time anyone, whether it's here in Alberta or across the country, raises questions about the approach the Alberta government and oil companies are taking in developing the oilsands, they're shouted down. They're demonized. They're dismissed," McGowan said.
"We've had the ghost of the national energy program thrown in our face."
Mulcair believes booming energy exports, particularly from the oilsands, have created an artificially high dollar that has, in turn, hollowed out Canada's manufacturing sector — an economic phenomenon dubbed the "Dutch disease.''
He has insisted that statistics on manufacturing job losses are "irrefutable'' and that "everyone'' agrees more than half of those losses are the direct result of the artificially high Canadian dollar created by booming energy exports, particularly from Alberta's oilsands.
Mulcair is to tour the oilsands near Fort McMurray on Thursday morning. He is then to meet with the mayor of the municipality before he returns to Edmonton for a news conference.
Huffington Post/Canadian Press, Wed May 30 2012
OTTAWA - Tom Mulcair is heading to Alberta for his first tour of the oilsands, confident he can dispel perceptions that he's anti-development and anti-western Canada.
But even before the NDP leader left Ottawa for Thursday's tour, his political rivals were stoking fears that he'd shut down the engine of Canada's economy and throw thousands out of work.
Mulcair has earned condemnation by western premiers with his view that the booming oilsands have artificially boosted the value of the dollar, hurting other sectors of the economy — a phenomenon known as Dutch disease.
He won support Wednesday for his thesis from a study produced by the Alberta-based Pembina Institute. It concluded that Canada is suffering from a unique strain of Dutch disease, dubbed "oilsands fever," the benefits of which are unevenly shared across the country and could lead to economic turmoil down the road.
But another report, by the Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute, countered that the cross-country benefits of the West's energy resources far outweigh any ill-effects caused by the higher loonie.
Shortly before leaving for Alberta, Mulcair shrugged off suggestions he was about to enter the lion's den. He insisted there's "almost unanimous" support across Canada, including in Alberta, for his vision of environmentally sustainable development in which polluters pay the costs of cleaning up their messes.
"So, I think a lot of us are actually on the same page," he said.
Indeed, Mulcair suggested his views are in sync with those of Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who is advocating a national energy strategy.
"This whole discussion is about breaking the boom-and-bust cycle, having sustainable development, looking at the environmental, economic and social aspects of the equation, coming up with a pan-Canadian vision. There are people in the West who believe in that as well."
Mulcair acknowledged he's got some work to do to clear up some of the distortions that political rivals have been spreading about his position, such as that he's anti-western Canada.
"One of the things that we've been dealing with is the straw man that was set up by some of our adversaries, which was relatively easy to knock down," he said.
He reiterated that his polluter-pay principle does not single out the West but would apply to the development of all natural resources right across the country, from logging in British Columbia to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick to the fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Mulcair has said it would be "senseless" to stop development of the oilsands. But that didn't stop Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver from accusing him of wanting to do precisely that.
"If he approaches the visit (to the oilsands) with an open mind, he will be mugged by reality, the reality of the importance of the vast resource to jobs, growth and government revenues, the reality ... of how every region of the country benefits, including aboriginal communities," Oliver said.
"Unfortunately, Thomas Mulcair has been clear that he does not support the oilsands, that he does want to shut them down, killing hundreds of thousands of jobs. ... He can visit the oilsands but let's be clear that his real agenda is to impose a crushing new carbon tax, shut down the oilsands and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs."
As proof, Oliver pointed to a 2008 book by Andrew Nikiforuk, entitled Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. Mulcair wrote a foreword to the book, which Oliver took as an endorsement of author's call for phasing out oilsands production by 2030 and imposing what Oliver dubbed a "crushing" new carbon tax.
During last fall and winter's leadership contest and since claiming the NDP leadership in March, Mulcair has repeatedly said he doesn't support shutting down the oilsands or a carbon tax. He does advocate putting a price on carbon through implementation of a cap-and-trade system, which the Harper government itself supported at one time.
But Oliver doubted Mulcair has genuinely changed his tune, suggesting he is just trying to accomplish Nikiforuk's goals by "stealth."
Oliver's views were echoed by interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae, who tried to position his party as taking a moderate "reasoned" position between the polar extremes offered by the Conservatives and NDP.
"I think we're seeing a kind of rhetorical drawing of lines in the oilsands, if you like, which I don't think is very constructive," Rae said.
He added that Liberals favour sustainable development of the oilsands and putting "a proper price" on carbon — much as Mulcair is advocating.
"I think the biggest mistake we can make is say that it's an either-or situation. The government says it's development or else and the NDP says shut it down or else because it's not sustainable. Our answer is let's have development that's sustainable," Rae said.
He also took Mulcair to task for having dismissed western premiers earlier this month as "messengers" for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"I think that's a lousy way to begin the discussion."
Some union leaders, however, defended Mulcair Wednesday, saying Albertans should be thanking him for igniting a long overdue debate about the pace of development in the oilsands.
"Every time anyone, whether it's here in Alberta or across the country, raises questions about the approach the Alberta government and oil companies are taking in developing the oilsands, they're shouted down. They're demonized. They're dismissed," said Gil McGowan, the head of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"We've had the ghost of the national energy program thrown in our face."
Mulcair is not scheduled to meet with Redford during his Alberta trip. She is to be out of the province Thursday. However, he will meet with her deputy premier and the mayor of Fort McMurray.
Winnipeg Free Press, Wed May 30 2012
Byline: Joan Bryden
EDMONTON - Labour groups are stepping up their attack on changes to regulations for temporary foreign workers, saying the adjustments will reduce wages for Canadians, make it tougher for union shops to bid for work and allow companies to cut training of local employees.
"Harper is giving a go-ahead to employers to tap into vulnerable foreign workers to drive down Canadian wages," said Jim Stanford, head economist for the Canadian Auto Workers.
A federal spokeswoman said the measures, which allow workers to be paid less than the going Canadian wage, would not disadvantage workers in hot labour markets.
"Regional differences will be taken into account," said Alyson Queen of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
On Wednesday, the federal government said it would speed up approval times for companies to get skilled workers into Canada if local labour can't be found. It also promised better protections for such workers once they're in the country.
But it also said employers would be allowed to pay foreign workers up to 15 per cent less than the prevailing local wage.
Because foreign workers in union shops must be paid the negotiated wage, Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour said the provision gives non-union contractors the ability to undercut union contractors.
"What happened yesterday is really about giving non-union construction contractors the upper hand in bidding for work in the oilsands sector," he said.
About half the construction work in Alberta already goes to non-union shops, McGowan said.
He also suggested that increasing the flow of skilled workers from other countries will reduce the need for employers to spend money on training and apprenticeships for Canadians.
Ron Genereux, vice-president of construction for Suncor Energy, said the wage provisions would only potentially apply to a very small number of workers. He said more than 90 per cent of oilsands construction already goes to unionized employees.
The reforms are necessary, he added.
"It was taking us six to nine months to get people here. A project duration is typically 24 to 36 months. If you waste 10 months of that 30 months, you're creating major schedule (problems) and resulting cost challenges on your project."
Employers have no cost incentive to hire from outside Canada, he said.
"Foreign workers are the most expensive workers we've got."
Queen said Ottawa will monitor local labour conditions to make sure proposed wages aren't artificially low. She also said having fewer staff processing applications means more resources will be available for monitoring and enforcement.
She noted the new measures contain provisions for on-site visits from inspectors and the power to compel records, with the co-operation of provincial governments.
Both McGowan and Stanford doubt the government's ability to determine a fair wage in a volatile economy such as Alberta's.
"For years now, people at Statistics Canada have said they don't have adequate labour market information to make this program work," said McGowan. "With the deep cuts to StatsCan, it's going to be even more difficult for them to figure out what exactly is the prevailing wage."
Stanford said all Canadian workers are threatened by the new program, not just labourers in the oilsands.
"These measures that were announced (Wednesday) will be used to staff hotels in Ontario. They'll be used for light manufacturing in British Columbia. This is part of a national low-wage strategy."
Andrew Jackson, an economist for the Canadian Labour Congress, suggested the government would have been better off to focus on coming reforms to immigration legislation that will speed applications from those with in-demand skills.
"A lot of employers would rather have an immigration system that responds more quickly," he said. "It's puzzling and disturbing to me that (the government) is expanding this back-door channel."
Winnipeg Free Press, Thurs Apr 26 2012
Byline: Bob Weber, Canadian Press
Changes to TFW program will allow employers to slash wages
The federal government has put corporate profits ahead of the needs of Canadian workers with the changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program announced today, says Alberta's largest labour group. "We have said all along that the TFW program was being used to drive down the wages paid to Canadian workers and, today, the federal government confirmed this in writing," says Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) which represents 145,000 workers. The background document attached to the government's media release says: "A new wage structure will also be introduced to provide employers with greater flexibility. Wages that are up to 15 per cent below the average wage for an occupation in a specific region will be accepted." Furlong says: "This government claims it believes in the free market, but doesn't want to allow the free market to apply to workers and their wages. Instead, it interferes to drive down wages in the interest of its corporate paymasters." She said she was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that these changes came after consultation with employers. "The Harper government didn't even bother to consult with Canadian workers. They consulted only with employers, many of whom are foreign-owned. We asked to take part in these consultations, but they weren't interested," says Furlong. "We think Canadians and Albertans should be concerned with this blatant disregard for the needs of citizens and how the federal government has put corporate profits ahead of its own people. "There are 1.4 million Canadians looking for work. Giving employers quicker access to foreign workers and allowing employers to slash wages by up to 15 per cent means most of them will remain out of work. That means they will continue to be a strain on Employment Insurance or government support programs, instead of working and paying taxes. The government is telling these Canadians that they are not needed," she says. "In a report last year titled Impact of the TFW Program on the Labour Market in Alberta, the provincial government said the TFW program is bad for our economy. It also leaves vulnerable foreign workers open to all kinds of abuse. So why are we expanding it? We will soon have 100,000 TFWs in this province. How many do we need? "The real solution to the labour shortage in Alberta is to follow the advice of former premier Peter Lougheed and set a more reasonable pace of development in the oil sands. We hope the newly elected Redford government is listening to him," says Furlong.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nancy Furlong, AFL Secretary Treasurer, 780-483-3012 or 780-720-8945
NISKU – Alberta businesses, frustrated by red tape and delays in hiring temporary foreign workers, got a break Wednesday from the federal government.
Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley announced that companies with an unblemished two-year history of hiring temporary workers from abroad will be allowed to apply for fast-tracked hiring permission.
"Employers with a strong track record in need of high-skilled workers will be able to obtain a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) within 10 business days," Finley said. "Even better news, this is effective immediately."
The Alberta Federation of Labour, however, said the announcement isn't all good news.
The new rules will result in lower wages for skilled workers and aggravate problems associated with a temporary foreign workforce, including people staying on illegally after their contracts expire, said AFL secretary-treasurer Nancy Furlong.
"If there is an ongoing need for workers, why not bring them in as permanent citizens?" asked Furlong, noting that labour groups were not invited to consultations over the changes.
Until now, companies had to pay workers what is known as the "prevailing wage." But that requirement now changes in the high-skill trades category.
"For added flexibility, wages up to 15 per cent below the average wage rate will be accepted so long as it can be clearly demonstrated the same wages are being paid to Canadian workers," Finley said at Wednesday's news conference in Nisku.
Furlong argued that 15-per-cent rule "interferes with supply and demand forces in the economy."
But getting that break on wages is a key factor to Ron Buchhorn, whose company runs a manufacturing business in Alberta and desperately needs welders and heavy-duty mechanics.
"Manufacturing cannot compete with wages in the primary industries — oilsands and mining and potash," said Buchhorn, vice-president of human resources for Advanced Engineering Products. His company is looking for 80 skilled workers for its operations here and in Saskatchewan.
In Alberta, "we can't compete with fly-in" work camps around Fort McMurray, which pay high wages and cover housing costs for workers, he added.
The company, which received the first speedy LMO on Wednesday, has looked for workers in Ontario and the Maritimes, but can't find the people it needs. These new rules "will enable us to increase our manufacturing capacity and increase service so we'll be more successful."
Under federal rules, employers must apply for LMOs before they can hire a foreign worker. The company must prove it has made an effort to recruit locally and within the country. If that was not successful, the company must then apply to Service Canada for permission to hire someone for a two-year period from outside the country.
But the process to get an LMO has been taking months, which is too long for many companies, says David MacLean, spokesman for the Alberta Enterprise Group, a business group that lobbies on economic issues.
"The temporary foreign worker process, as it stands, was too burdensome, too cumbersome, too complicated and there was too much red tape," said MacLean. "It just wasn't working to meet the needs in this economy."
The new rules apply to skilled labour categories only and the federal government expects to process about 150,000 temporary foreign worker applications from across the country this year, said Finley.
Bill Stewart of Merit Contractors Association calls the changes a step in the right direction, but just one piece of the puzzle to solve the looming labour shortage. His organization of non-union construction companies is eager to see details about how companies qualify to get on the preferred list.
"Recruiting internationally is not the first choice for construct industry as it's not cheap," he said.
Stewart says the merit contractors are also heartened by the efforts of federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who is looking at changing immigration rules to let more skilled tradesmen into the country. Only a fraction of the 250,000 immigrants admitted annually are skilled workers, Kenney said, and that has to change.
Finley said the new system will cut paperwork for businesses since they'll be able to apply online. New compliance monitoring will ensure companies are treating workers fairly. She also said businesses who violate the rules will have their ability to hire temporary foreign workers suspended for two years.
Calgary Herald, Wed Apr 25 2012
Byline: Sarah O'Donnell and Sheila Pratt
At least one Alberta group isn't happy with today's changes to federal temporary foreign worker laws.
The Alberta Federation of Labour says lowering the wages for the workers makes Alberta's workforce less competitive and essentially steals jobs from the province.
Secretary Treasurer Nancy Furlong says the rules help big corporations save money at the expense of the unemployed.
"They're going to get a discount. They'll be able to bring foreign workers in and pay them less than what they would get if they were Canadian and living in this province, which is just a terrible decision and will drive wages down and keep them down," says Furlong.
The AFL wants to see a more reasonable development pace in the oil sands and better training for temporary foreign workers so they can get their tickets and stay in Canada.
630AM CHED, Wed Apr 25 2012
Reducing immigration barriers is long overdue
Immigration is the federal department most likely to be viewed as the stodgiest and burdened with the most cumbersome processes. This is not necessarily a reflection of how the department operates, but it's a public perception that comes from hearing of the lengthy wait times, stacks of documents and bottomless quantities of patience required of those who are either trying to sponsor a family member to come to Canada or are immigrating here themselves.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is doing a bang-up job of dispelling that perception and showing just how flexible the federal government can be in meeting the demands of an economy that's just picking up momentum, coming out of the doldrums of 2008.
Kenney has announced the establishment of a new queue for skilled tradespeople, which will streamline things and make it easier for foreigners working in the trades to come to Canada and help fill shortages in the labourstarved resource-based and construction industries.
The new queue is long overdue, for as Kenney himself told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, "in the past, it was virtually impossible for skilled tradespeople to get in through our rigid economic programs at the federal level."
In fact, of the 48,678 people who came to Canada through the skilled worker program in 2010, skilled tradespeople made up only three per cent. That just goes to show how the barriers need to come tumbling down.
Lack of advanced Englishlanguage skills and the absence of a post-secondary degree meant people were often passed over, but all that will, thankfully, change by the end of this year. A "workable level of English," according to Kenney, will be all that is required as far as language fluency, while the 100-point grid typically used to assess a foreign worker's admissibility will be revamped for tradespeople.
The Alberta Federation of Labour is concerned that loosening the requirements for the admission of foreign tradespeople will divert interest and incentive for the next crop of Canadian-born tradespeople. However, one of the reasons the shortage exists is that Canadian youth are traditionally encouraged to go to university and pursue careers in the professions. There is a pervasive, if contradictory, attitude among Canadians that society couldn't possibly function without skilled tradespeople, but they'd rather see their own children eschew a future in the trades.
If Canadians aren't going to enter the trades in large enough numbers, employers have to look elsewhere because the work simply needs to get done, and someone qualified has to do it. In fact, part of Kenney's new plan includes setting up a list of qualified job seekers for prospective employers to peruse.
Kenney's reforms are a perfect example of the federal government being keenly attuned to the needs of the market. Instead of clinging to some stifling bureaucratic status quo, the Immigration department is responding accordingly to help industry, with the ultimate goal of promoting and maintaining the health and vigour of the economy.
Calgary Herald, Sun Apr 15 2012
Processing oilsands output in Alberta will create jobs, ND leader argues
New Democrat Leader Brian Mason would move forward with four upgraders planned for the Industrial Heartland area northeast of Edmonton, saying on Saturday that keeping bitumen in Alberta creates more jobs and stronger communities.
"We need to not just be the exporter of unprocessed raw materials for the rest of the world to create employment, but to create employment right here in our province," Mason said.
This follows Mason's earlier campaign announcement to increase royalties from bitumen production by 25 per cent, a raise the NDP said would bring in $1.4 billion annually and could be used to improve public services.
"It would be a 25 per cent increase in royalties on bitumen as opposed to refined or upgraded synthetic crude oil. That would have the impact of creating the investment here in our province, instead of in other parts of the world, and I think that's what Albertans expect and demand," Mason said on Saturday.
The NDP announcement comes after organizations, including the Alberta Federation of Labour and Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association, called on party leaders to address plans for the province's petrochemical sector.
AFL President Gil McGowan said the question of whether bitumen should be upgraded in the province or exported in its raw form is one of the most important economic issues facing Alberta today.
"More upgrading makes sense because it keeps jobs, profits and tax revenue here in Alberta, instead of sending all of those things to places like the U.S. or China," McGowan said.
He was pleased with Mason's plans to move forward with the upgraders, if the NDP are elected, and noted he has been "profoundly disappointed" that other party leaders have not addressed the question of upgrading. The Alberta Liberals, Tories and Wildrose parties have all said they will not increase oil and gas royalties if they are elected.
Mason targeted both the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties in his announcement, noting the Conservatives are allowing an increasing amount of bitumen to be shipped out of the province, while the Wildrose is "bankrolled by oil companies hoping to keep royalties low and profit margins at record highs."
"The Conservative government has allowed bitumen to be exported from this province without being upgraded here, despite the promise made in the last election by former Premier Ed Stelmach, who likened the export of unprocessed bitumen from the province to scraping off the topsoil from your farm and selling it," Mason said.
By moving forward with the four proposed upgraders, which have been stalled since 2008, Mason said 4,000 permanent operations jobs and 12,000 jobs in service and related industries would be created.
Calgary Herald, Sat Apr 14 2012
Byline: Cailynn Klingbeil