A reminder of the cost of low oil prices came to the Border City with The Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The organization’s cross-country pipeline tour, complete with a visual of price differentials and a dial depicting money lost since 2013, came to city hall to rally pipeline support.
According to the CTF, the dollars lost in government revenue from a lack of pipelines since 2013 is more than $6.4 billion. The CTF also asserts that the number grows by $3 million every day. Should Canada have had pipeline capacity to get full-value for Canadian oil from 2013 to 2023, the CTF says that 16 new hospitals could be built, or 21,000 new teaching positions for ten years, or exempt all of Lethbridge from federal taxes for nearly eleven years.
This figure, displayed on a clock-like counter that goes up every second, doesn’t sit well with the CTF. The organization has a long history of fighting for fiscal fairness have been directed by names like current Alberta premier Jason Kenney, Former MLA Derek Fildebrandt and former Reform Party candidate John Carpay. Franco Terrazzano, current Alberta Director for the CTF, believes enough is enough on an issue that matters to all Canadians.
“We’re leaving a lot of money on the table for tax [sic] that we’re not using for important services because we’re not getting pipelines built,” said Terrazano. “This is the important message that the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been taking to every single province, that all Canadians can be made better off if governments let job creators make pipelines.”
Terrazzano says that many Canadians across the country have been surprised by what he calls the “pipeline deficit”. He adds that the money lost from a lack of pipeline capacity could have gone towards reducing medical wait times, building hospitals, hiring teachers and reducing classroom sizes.
The effect of a lack of pipelines is displayed on price tags marking foreign and domestic oil. The average annual price of Western Texas Intermediate (WTI) in 2018, at $83.86 a barrel compared to Western Canada Select at $49.98, shows how steep of a discount Canadian oil receives. Terrazzano believes the pipeline deficit is ultimately caused by an unworkable regulatory system. The tanker ban, the rejected Northern Gateway project and the failed Energy East project all point to a system that he calls unworkable.
“These are all issues with the regulatory system in Canada. We need a regulatory system that works so we can create jobs, help the economy and have more money to build hospitals, hire more teachers and lower taxes.”
Deputy Mayor Aaron Buckingham was also present for the display. He found the estimate of money lost “staggering” and believed it highlights the importance of the industry to our local economy. Buckingham adds that Border City residents are no stranger to the effects of an oilfield slump.
“We’ve seen our share of ups and downs throughout the years, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve never seen a down like we’re seeing right now,” said Buckingham. “There are a ton of hard-working men and women right here in our community and the surrounding areas who are suffering due to what’s happening to the Canadian petroleum industry, currently.”
The CTF calculated this estimate from data published by the Parliamentary Budget Officer on how much additional revenue Ottawa would collect with a lower oil price differential.