February 8, 2017
Mr. Len Webber (Calgary Confederation, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to contribute to this debate on the Alberta jobs crisis.
The constituency that I represent, Calgary Confederation, is a riding located in the inner city of Calgary. It is smack dab in the middle, just north of the Bow River. It is a wonderful riding and there are wonderful people who live there. They work hard and have great families. The population is approximately 112,000 people, and many of those people have been deeply affected by the downturn in the oil industry. There have been massive lay-offs throughout my riding due not only to the price of oil but also due to the unnecessary taxation implemented by both the provincial NDP government and the federal Liberals on an industry that is already on its knees. The implementation of the carbon tax is an attack on an industry just trying to survive.
To understand the utter devastation that has taken place in the Alberta jobs market, one only needs to look at the Liberal government’s record since taking office. While the national unemployment rate has remained steady at 7%, the unemployment rate in Calgary has risen dramatically to around 10%. Behind those unemployment numbers are real people, real families, and they are suffering. Even those with jobs today live under incredible stress not knowing if they will become one of the tens of thousands of laid-off workers in the oil industry.
My staff in my constituency office, Lou and Pat, are on the front lines. They have been receiving calls that just tear me apart. It sometimes leaves them emotionally drained and visibly shaken.
There are parents, who are calling in sobbing, telling of their children who have been sent away to family in other provinces, because they cannot afford to feed and house them in Calgary.
I went door knocking during the Christmas break and I met one man who was ashamed to let me share his name. He told me of not finding work, depleting his family savings, losing their home and still to this day cannot find work. He was so embarrassed by the situation that he sent his wife and three children to Manitoba to stay with his in-laws so that he could shield the reality of their family’s situation from his young children. Imagine being ashamed to be in front of your own children.
Another father almost had the same experience. He moved his wife and children to Saskatchewan, a province where at least the Saskatchewan Party and Premier Brad Wall get it. They strongly oppose a carbon tax, and I strongly applaud Premier Brad Wall for trying to convince the government otherwise.
Another constituent called into the office and we asked him his address, he gave us his licence number as his address. He lives in a car.
I have had two people mention suicide as an option if they do not get some help from the government.
The tragic stories go on and the hope continues to fade. Hopefully one day things will improve. We pray for the price of oil to come up again. We pray that the government listens to the people of Alberta, the people of Canada.
I implore all members to remember the people behind these unemployment numbers. Each person has a unique story, but they share the same challenges, and that is putting a roof over their heads and food on the table. It is what every Canadian wants and every Canadians deserves.
The Liberal government must stop taxing Albertans into poverty. Let us stop destroying their primary industries. Better yet, let us stop ignoring them and their situation. Let us get Alberta back to work and let us do it soon.