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Experts cast doubt over Kenney's economic recovery plan

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – After Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the plan for the province’s economic recovery, several experts remain doubtful and question if the plan is really what the province needs.

“Was there really a reason to really have that? What was there that was content worthy that this is the ambitious plan, this is the vision, this is how we’re going to propel the province forward for the next decade? I feel like I was watching a rerun,” said Moshe Lander, Bookmark Professor in the Economics department at Concordia University

Lander says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s announcement today was just a rehash of campaign promises, budgetary promises, and nondescript plans.

READ MORE: Alberta cuts business tax, boosts infrastructure spending to reboot economy

In response to Kenney’s actions toward diversifying the economy, Lander says the Premier looks like he doesn’t have a plan.

“I think that he’s had a couple of ideas in his head that he consistently goes to, one of them being the corporate tax cut, and that’s the panacea to solve all of the province’s problems.”

He says “clumsy adherence” to the oil and gas sector, along with the absolute refusal to discuss a provincial sales tax hinders the potential diversification of the economy.

Lander says although the investment in Alberta’s infrastructure is a “not a bad idea” the province needs a bigger infrastructure vision than fixing a bunch of highways and potholes.

“It’s the right sort of idea in terms of infrastructure, but its the wrong sort of focal point.”

He says this is not the bold and ambitious plan Kenney promised it would be.

READ MORE: Kenney says ambitious, long-term Alberta economy reboot plan coming Monday

“It’s not bold, it’s not ambitious. It’s none of those things,” said Lander.

“It’s tired, it’s played, it’s old, it’s unimaginative. It’s continuing to play the same songs over and over again.”

Associate professor of Economics at the University of Calgary, Trevor Tombe, says it was the limited scope of the plan overall that surprised him

“A lot of the big-ticket items that were announced, the increase in infrastructure spending and the reduction in corporate taxes, I think both will make a positive contribution to the recovery,” said Tombe.

“But, there wasn’t a lot of other meat on any of the bones laid out in that document.”

He says the announcement left a lot of questions unanswered, and he was hoping for more clarity regarding budget problems.

“If you’re thinking about an investment that you want to make to Alberta, you need to know that there will be quality public services that will be here, and you need to know what the tax rates are going to be.”

He says, for all the talk of red tape reduction, there wasn’t a lot of concrete action.

However, Tombe says the corporate tax rate reductions are a good move.

“I don’t think that’s controversial, and I think the evidence quite strong. The challenge for the government is that it takes time for those effects to occur, potentially years.”

RELATED: Albertans more concerned about economy than COVID-19: survey

Regarding the diversification of the economy, Tombe says he believes Alberta is in a much better position than people realize.

“I don’t think Alberta has a diversification challenge in the way that most people think it does,” said Tombe.

“Our employment is spread across a broad range of sectors in a way that is, in some measures, more diverse than any other province in the country.”