A number of “business-friendly” measures have been introduced in Alberta to restore the Alberta Advantage by attracting more investors to the province and by assisting Alberta businesses with their economic recovery during the global recession. These measures include the “business-friendly” and red tape reduction (“RTR”) legislative policies being implemented by the Alberta government, such as the significant amendments being implemented to the Business Corporations Act (Alberta) (“BCA”) that we wrote about here, the new prospectus exemption for self-certified Alberta and Saskatchewan investors we previously discussed on the blog here, and other amendments to Alberta business organizations legislation, including to the Partnership Act (Alberta).
The upheaval in Alberta’s economy over the past few years has been substantial, resulting from a one-two punch of collapsing energy prices as well as the global economic fallout from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, these legislative measures engender a cautious optimism about the economic recovery of the province, and signal to investors and businesses alike that Alberta is the best place do business in North America.
Restoring the Alberta Advantage
The “Alberta Advantage”, a term coined during the Klein era, was used to refer to Alberta’s long period of economic success, as well as its unique combination of low taxes and good public services. Alberta’s Recovery Plan, the Alberta government’s long-term economic strategy, puts Alberta back on track to having an investment friendly climate, with the stated goals of:
- creating new jobs;
- making Alberta more competitive in the long term;
- accelerating economic diversification;
- ensuring a strong future for Alberta’s energy industry; and
- immediately showing investors around the world that Alberta means business.
Albertans ought to be encouraged by an economic recovery plan that focuses on building and diversifying the Alberta economy, creating new jobs, and attracting new investors to this province. In particular, the initiatives to date demonstrate that Alberta is serious about becoming more competitive for businesses, less bureaucratic, and attracting both national and international investment.
Alberta’s New Business-Friendly Legislative Policies
Some of the most significant and “business-friendly” measures implemented in the past few years, in addition to those already mentioned above, include the following:
- Bill 49: the Labour Mobility Act (“LMA”) received Royal Assent on December 2, 2021, and was introduced to reduce employment barriers and attract highly skilled professionals to the province. Some of the key changes being introduced by Bill 49 include:
- standardizing and streamlining processes to recognize the credentials and training of out-of-province certified professional workers;
- introducing maximum timeframes (20 business days) for registration decisions or an extension of up to 10 business days via Minister approval;
- requiring processes for appeals and for internally reviewing applications;
- determining what information or documentation types or quantities regulatory authorities can request;
- defining offences and financial penalties for contravening the LMA; and
- requiring documentation and fees be available on a public website.
- The extensive RTR measures enacted through the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Acts, including Bills 48 and 25 which we previously discussed on the blog here, Bill 62, and Bill 80.
- RTR implemented to date according to the Alberta government has reduced red tape by fifteen (15%) per cent and will meet its commitment of reducing red tape by one-third by 2023.
- Bill 62, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2021 received Royal Assent on June 21, 2021, and will update eight sets of provincial legislation including the Securities Act (“SA”) and the BCA.
- Amendments to the SA and BCA in Bill 62 include:
- the strengthening of enforcement provisions under the SA, such as the inclusion of an “aiding, abetting and counselling” prohibition under the SA;
- the regulation of designated “information processors” under the SA in the context of trading securities; and
- amending the BCA provisions respecting the Alberta Securities Commission’s powers to make certain exemption orders.
- Bill 80, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2021 (No. 2) received Royal Assent on December 8, 2021, and will update nine pieces of legislation within the following themes: economic growth and job creation, smart regulation, and improving service delivery.
- A $10 billion investment in Alberta infrastructure split between the federal and provincial governments over ten years (2018-2028). This is the largest ever investment in Alberta infrastructure, with projects designed to create new jobs and improve long-term economic growth and to encourage investment across the province. This includes the largest ever investment in Alberta’s technology sector from Amazon Web Services.
- A projected $12.4-billion decrease in the Alberta deficit for 2021/2022, from $18.2 billion to $5.8 billion. This would be the smallest deficit for Alberta since oil prices dropped in late 2014.
- The creation in July 2020 of a new provincial agency, Invest Alberta (Invest Alberta Corporation), dedicated to promoting investment in the province:
- Invest Alberta will be promoting an aggressive international campaign to attract high value and high impact investment from key foreign markets, starting with Houston, Texas.
- Invest Alberta has a mandate to attract investment into Alberta’s primary sectors (energy, agriculture, and tourism), as well as other high-growth industries such as technology, aviation and aerospace, and financial services.
- A reduction in the corporate tax rate, effective as of July 1, 2020, from ten (10%) per cent to eight (8%) per cent, making Alberta’s corporate tax rate the lowest in the country:
- This reduction is part of the government’s previously announced Job Creation Tax Cut, which already reduced Alberta’s corporate tax rate from twelve (12%) per cent to eleven (11%) per cent, and then to ten (10%) per cent.
- The Innovation Employment Grant (“IEG”), a corporate tax incentive offered to small and medium-sized businesses in Alberta that invest in research and development (“R&D”) with a grant worth up to twenty (20%) per cent of qualifying expenditures:
- The IEG is open to Alberta businesses as of January 1, 2021, and is designed to promote investment and diversification in the province by rewarding all R&D spending in Alberta, regardless of the industry, that is incurred after December 31, 2020.
These measures, among others, demonstrate Alberta’s willingness to promote and maintain an investment climate that encourages business investment and development in the province, and such measures will foster the success of investors, businesses and entrepreneurs alike.
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Carscallen LLP’s business lawyers advise a wide range of business organizations, including public and private companies, partnerships, not-for-profit companies, and registered charities. We are committed to understanding your business needs and offering timely, targeted legal advice that helps meet your requirements.
Please feel free to contact any member of our Corporate Governance group or our Corporate and Commercial Transactions group if you have any questions about how the legislative amendments discussed in this blog may affect your business or organization.*This update is intended for general information only on the subject matter and is not to be taken as legal advice.