By John Cotter
EDMONTON — Alberta’s NDP government has scrapped a plan to help create 27,000 jobs by rewarding businesses that hire new employees.
The incentive program once hailed by Premier Rachel Notley planned to offer tax credits worth $89 million in the first year for businesses creating jobs.
New hiring was to be encouraged by refunding 10 per cent of each new employee’s salary to a maximum salary of $50,000.
Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said employers in the business community just didn’t like the idea.
"In response to a great deal of feedback, we have decided not to proceed with the Job Creation Incentive Plan," Bilous said in a speech Monday.
Bilous said the government will instead introduce a new plan in Thursday’s budget that is to include $10 million to support innovation and job creation in Calgary and Edmonton.
Alberta’s unemployment rate this spring is just over seven per cent due to thousands of job losses in the slumping energy sector.
Ken Kobly, president of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, praised the government for listening to the business sector.
The NDP plan would not have been effective, he said.
"The point we were making is businesses will hire when they need staff," Kobly said. "The important thing to do right now is to get the economy moving — that will create your jobs for you."
The organization says it represents 128 chambers of commerce representing 24,000 businesses.
Kobly said the chambers have also told the government they are concerned about the next step in the NDP’s plan to raise Alberta’s minimum wage to $15 by 2018.
Alberta’s general minimum wage increased to $11.20 from $10.20 per hour last October.
The government hasn’t indicated how much the minimum wage is to increase this year.
Kobly said they hope the government will put off an increase or make any change modest enough for hard−pressed businesses to absorb.
"We have an economy that is in the tank right now," he said.
"As far as creating jobs, look at the cumulative effect of every change that you make in the upcoming budget as it affects business."