With change comes uncertainty.
A new political party has formed a majority government in Alberta for the first time in generations, and with the NDP now in power, business leaders in Lloydminster are waiting to see how the provincial change will affect their day-to-day operations.
“The governing party certainly has an impact,” Lloydminster Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) CEO Ward Read said. “We’ve seen the NDP speaking in their campaign about making some adjustments to tax rates and minimum wage rates and so on and those are things that are going to impact all businesses, be it multinationals or more local.”
The LEDC works to attract business and strengthen the economy in the Lloydminster area. Read says the re-election of PC MLA Richard Starke suggests that there are some concerns about what an NDP government means for the region, but he thinks any major changes will be “muted.”
“Alberta is going to continue to be a good place to live and a good place to do business and Lloydminster is going to as well. If the NDP does bring in some changes, and they proposed some, they’re not things that are going to happen immediately,” Read said. “I’ll pick on increasing the minimum wage to $15: The legal minimum wage has been lower but in a place like Lloydminster or Wood Buffalo the real minimum wage has probably been around $15 for most of the last four or five years anyways, so some of those changes might not have as big an impact as we might think.”
Read doesn’t expect many local businesses to relocate to the Saskatchewan side of town in reaction to NDP polices, like the proposed increase in corporate tax.
“Changing from a 10 per cent to a 12 per cent corporate tax rate, that in fact will only put the corporate tax rate actually on par with what Saskatchewan has, so there won’t necessarily be a benefit of changing provinces,” he said.
Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce president John Winter says a change in government won’t affect his organization’s ability to advocate on behalf of local businesses. He looks forward to working with the new administration.
“We’ll have to see what (NDP Premier Rachel Notley) and her team decide to do going forward. It could be a great opportunity for us to be able to educate her on the Lloydminster problems and what our area needs,” Winter said. “One positive is we have an experienced MLA who knows what it’s like to operate a business and knows what the Lloydminster challenges are.”
Winter says there is a lot of speculation about NDP policies and it’s too soon to pass judgement.
“It’s pretty early, (Notley) just got in a couple days ago,” he said. “It’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens in the coming months and years.”