On August 16th, UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean made headlines for proposing a tax on companies that rely on “fly-in fly-out” workers from outside Alberta.
If successfully enacted, the tax would prioritize jobs for Albertan residents and encourage workers who commute to Alberta to become residents.
While the proposed payroll tax would primarily impact oilsands projects around Fort McMurray, which employ out-of-province workers, the tax could apply to other industries, like agriculture and mining.
“This will discourage large corporations from relying on workers who are not resident in Alberta and do not pay Alberta taxes,” Jean said. “Fly-in and fly-out workers may be necessary in some circumstances but there should be a strong preference towards hiring Albertans first.”
So far, other candidates to replace Jason Kenney have not yet weighed in on this issue. But the idea would appeal to municipalities that have a large number of workers that collect paycheques in Alberta but reside in other provinces, resulting in tax leakage.
Community leaders in the Fort McMurray region, for example, have long complained that the 30,000 workers who live in 68 oilsands camps are not officially residents, increasing the burden of funding services to those who are.
“The theme of my campaign is Autonomy for Albertans and addressing this tax leakage is a way to increase the autonomy of municipal councils who struggle with delivering services and maintaining infrastructure that serves these workers who neither contribute to our economy nor pay taxes in Alberta,” Jean said.
Jean’s campaign promise coincides with a new UCP-led Government of Alberta campaign to encourage inter-provincial migration to Alberta to address a growing labour shortage.
The campaign, called Alberta is Calling, invites skilled workers from Toronto and Vancouver to move to Alberta.