Part II: Calkins says Canada can’t sustain long-term shutdown

Part II: Calkins says Canada can’t sustain long-term shutdown

Reopening Alberta now is a ‘difficult balancing question’

Another topic discussed during Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins’ Zoom call with the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce on May 19 revolved around the timing of reopening Alberta and if Alberta businesses could survive a second wave of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Calkins says federal supports pick ‘winners and losers’

Calkins says he’s confident Alberta is ready to begin to reopen, as Alberta’s business owners and the public are “very educated” with health protocols and so far, have done well in containing the spread of coronavirus.

“Central Alberta accounts for less than one per cent of the outbreak of COVID-19 in the province,” he said.

“We can move forward in a safe and reasonable approach to getting our economy back on track and getting our people back to work.”

Calkins says reopening Alberta now is a “difficult balancing question” between the need to get the economy going again and preventing further outbreaks.

“We don’t want all of this pain to be for nothing, if we’re just going to reopen in a way that just creates the pandemic that we just paid such a heavy price to try to prevent in the first place but I think we’re ready,” said Calkins.

“This is not sustainable mentally, it’s not sustainable socially … we need to get back to some sense of normalcy as soon as possible in a safe and responsible way.”

Ponoka chamber executive manager Heather Bendera asked if the government has looked at any longer term solutions for businesses supports in the event of a second wave.

Calkins answered that in the limited time the Conservatives have had to hold the Liberals to account, that the federal government seems to be “flying by the seats of its pants.”

He added that there seems to be a “school of thought” that a long-term plan will be required, as there is some fear that there will be a second wave of the virus in the fall.

Calkins says Canada won’t be able to sustain a long-term shutdown because of the snowballing debt load, both federally and for consumers.

Estimates from Parliament’s budget officer now predict Canada’s annual deficit this year to be “well in excessive of $250 billion.”

The entire net national debt after that would be about $1 trillion, adding 25 per cent to the debt in one year. Canada’s GDP has also taken at least 10 per cent hit, says Calkins.

All these numbers are approaching the point of critical failure, economically, says Calkins.

“The Government of Canada, the Canadian public, the Canadian treasury, Canadian financial institutions, will not be able to sustain a long-term economic shutdown,” he said.

“We have to get people back to work, there has to be a sense of hope.”

One key to preventing a second wave will be keeping Canada’s borders closed to the United States.

“We’re shutdown. We can’t sustain this for a whole lot longer but we have to keep our borders closed to the United States,” he said.

“Their numbers are startling and they’re getting tens of thousands of new cases every day still.”

Calkins says if borders remain closed, tourism-dependent businesses that rely on traffic across the border is something the federal government will have to deal with.

Although there has been a lot of negatives for many businesses and individuals, some say there have been positives as well.

A call participant said she has heard of businesses diversifying and finding new ways to become more efficient during COVID-19 restrictions.

She noted some companies have adapted to provide more products locally and asked Calkins if he thought Canada might come out of this pandemic stronger and more self-sustaining in the future.

“From my perspective there are a lot of positives if we can just get through this,” said the participant.

“I just wanted to shed a little bit of hope. It’s not all dire.”

“A lot of business people have adapted very, very well and I think creative and innovative and hardworking and industrious people will always find a way to flourish regardless of the circumstances,” Calkins said in response.

Calkins says he’s a “free market guy” and will leave it up to consumers to vote with their pocket books if they want to support businesses that have adapted to consumer needs.

He added, however, that the government should help others that may not be as economically viable, rather than “socially engineering.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

AlbertaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New record: Red Deer at 236 active COVID cases

One more death in central zone reported

(Photo Courtesy of Fortis Alberta)
New FortisAlberta instillation in Sylvan means more reliability and shorter power interruption times

FortisAlberta recently installed a Distribution Automation system in Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake RCMP Detachment. Photo Courtesy of Google Maps
Sylvan Lake RCMP address three key areas of resident concern

RCMP were notified of these main areas of concern through an online Town Hall

Alberta had 1,571 active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta’s central zone now has 1,101 active COVID-19 cases

Provincial death toll has risen by nine

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup Craig Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside Rock Soup’s location until the Go Fund Me for Rock Soup raises $10,000. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Putting normalcy into asking for help: New non-profit sets up in Wetaskiwin

Rock Soup non-profit is a new non-secular Food Bank putting down roots in Wetaskiwin.

Wetaskiwin Composite High School. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools prepare for transition back to online learning

Grades 7-12 will are mandated to transfer to online learning starting Nov. 30, 2020.

Lawyer Devon Page, Ecojustice Canada’s executive director, pauses during a news conference in Vancouver on Wed., Sept. 26, 2012. The environmental law group has lost its bid to pause Alberta’s inquiry into where critics of its oil and gas industry get their funding. Ecojustice sought an injunction this summer to suspend the inquiry, headed by forensic accountant Steve Allan, until there is a decision on whether it’s legal. nbsp;THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Judge tosses application to pause Alberta inquiry into funding of oil and gas foes

Ecojustice sought an injunction in the summer to suspend the inquiry

Janelle Robinson owns and operates Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. The Ranch, just north of Stettler, is an animal therapy ranch that helps those with special needs and conditions ranging from PTSD to anxiety. Mark Weber/Stettler Independent
Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler provides support through animal interaction

‘I also come from a family of doers - if something that is needed isn’t there, you just figure it out’

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Most Read