The Alberta NDP is seeking a $1 billion, 10-year lease for a disaster management company that’s been a favourite of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s and her government for a decade.
In an election year, the party has tapped the company for a series of campaign promises and is looking for a way to expand the company’s operations beyond the province’s urban core.
Notley has said the company would operate out of a newly built building at the University of Alberta.
But the province said the new building is too small to accommodate the company, and that the company does not have an emergency response plan in place.
The NDP said it wants the company to operate in the province “as an independent company” with a mandate to work with provincial departments to develop and implement a disaster-response plan.
The company’s headquarters is in Edmonton.
It has a staff of about 50 people.
“We want to be part of that process, and it’s not just a question of a question, it’s a question that has to be answered,” said NDP finance critic Diane Ablonczy.
“It’s a very important issue for the people of Alberta.”
The company has not responded to questions about the proposed lease.
“The Premier’s office has made clear the government’s position is that the Government of Alberta has not received any application for a lease for this company,” said Notley.
Ablonce said the NDP would look at whether the company could be spun off into a subsidiary. “
So, the Premier will not be making a decision on this lease until the government has done its due diligence on this company.”
Ablonce said the NDP would look at whether the company could be spun off into a subsidiary.
But she said she’s not aware of a plan in the works.
Ablonczys office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Alberta government owns about 80 per cent of the company.
The provincial government said it will pay $1 million in a lump sum to the party to cover costs, including hiring of a lawyer to assist in negotiations.
Abronczy said it’s possible the party would consider selling off the company or leasing it.
The lease would cover the lease term for 10 years.
Abonczy’s office did say the party is looking at the company in its entirety and has been in talks with the company about possible lease options.
She said the party does not expect the lease would cost the province much.
The province is looking to expand its capacity in response to the increasing number of earthquakes and natural disasters in the Prairies, which have seen hundreds of people killed and thousands displaced.
Abmonczy and other NDP leaders have argued the province needs more funding to respond to disasters and that there needs to be more oversight of companies operating in the country’s largest province.
Abonsczys government has also spent millions of dollars to help build a new downtown office building, a major boost for the province.
But not all parties agree with the provincial government on that approach.
The Progressive Conservatives have called for an increase in provincial funding for disaster-management and other government-wide services, and Abonczys NDP government has said it would seek to increase federal assistance to assist provinces and territories in dealing with disasters.
The Conservatives said Abonciys plan would not be acceptable.
“There is a new premier in Alberta and the new premier has appointed the premier to be a disaster manager, not a disaster relief minister,” said Prentice spokesman Matt Gurney.
The government’s priority is to ensure that Albertans are safe, and we don’t want to see any new government trying to turn a blind eye to a growing disaster.”
Abonsczy has also been vocal in her criticism of the Alberta government, saying it doesn’t do enough to help the people affected by the province being struck by the largest earthquake in Canada in 2010.
The premier said that when she was premier she wanted to get a disaster response plan done in a timely manner.
Abontczy, who said she wants to lead the country on climate change, also said she would support a carbon tax, which would require the government to make investments in renewable energy, but not on the carbon market.
Abony said the province will not impose a carbon price on Alberta residents.