Alberta’s billions in transfer payments have helped other provinces hurt by economic troubles, so where’s the compassion for the province now?
Western Canada is currently facing uncertain times not witnessed since the Petro-Canada Centre, better known as Red Square, was built to house the then Crown Corporation in downtown Calgary in 1983. And with no resolution in sight for the five-year-long rout in oil and natural gas prices, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
While Encana’s decision to move its headquarters to Denver made headlines, the reality is that business are leaving the province in droves. One local realtor, Robert Graham at Arrowstar, told Global News recently that Arrowstar alone has helped 100 Western Canadian companies relocate to the Houston area, 40 of those in the past year and a half.
Others are shutting up shop completely, or closing locations in the province: Chili’s shut all but three of its Alberta locations in 2017; Red Robin has plans to pull out of Alberta by year-end; and Starbucks has announced numerous closures in both Edmonton and Calgary. That on top of the multitude of mom-and-pop businesses that are simply going bust.
In total, we calculate that business insolvencies in Alberta have skyrocketed by more than 70 per cent from their 2015 lows, as compared to a 13.5 per cent decrease on average for the country as whole over the same period.
Here in Calgary the mood is outright abysmal, with 89 per cent of businesses saying the current economic situation has deteriorated since last summer, according to city’s annual citizen satisfaction survey.