Province lowers budget on War Room for next three months in response to COVID-19

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta announced late Monday afternoon that the Canadian Energy Centre (CEC), also known as the War Room, was reducing its operating budget by 90 per cent for the next three months to reflect the province’s needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Annualized, that would be a reduction from $30 million to $2.84 million.

The UCP says the majority of the CEC’s upcoming budget was for paid advertising campaigns the government said cannot go forward during the COVD-19 pandemic. The government says the budget has been reduced to subsistence operations costs, including continuing and preparing research, office infrastructure and administrative support.

“Global energy demand is down dramatically because of reduced consumption due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Saudi-initiated price war. But in time, demand will recover,” said Minister of Energy Sonya Savage. “The world still needs reliable energy. While some would like to capitalize on this unprecedented crisis to permanently shut down Canadian oil and gas, we do not believe we should surrender the global energy market to these opponents. The CEC will continue to be required to promote and defend Canadian energy.”

The province says two-thirds of the CEC’s allocated budget is provided directly from industry via the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) levy. The remaining third consists of reallocated advertising funds from previous budgets.

Within an hour of Monday’s announcement, the Official Opposition criticized Premier Kenney fro not scrapping the CEC all together.

“Tom Olsen and his war room buddies have been doing nothing for Albertans but waste $82,000 a day of their money on juvenile tweets and plagiarized logos,” said NDP Opposition Critic for Energy Irfan Sabir. “It’s good that they will be wasting slightly less in the coming weeks, but the Premier should listen to the broad consensus of Albertans and scrap the war room altogether.”

The NDP called the War Room an “expensive futility,” something they say has become increasingly obvious ain light of the fact the OPEC-Russia price war and coronavirus pandemic have pushed energy prices to historic lows.

“Over the weekend, Jason Kenney laid off more than 20,000 hard-working Albertans who support students with complex needs,” Sabir said. “Educational assistants and school bus drivers should have kept their jobs, and the war room budget should be reduced to zero, permanently.”

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