Princeton-area man credits Facebook group with helping save his life

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When Heather Balaam called 911 from her rural home because her husband was having a heart attack, she couldn’t get through.

“Our cellphone service is so intermittent, it wouldn’t put a signal through,” she said. “And it’s like, oh my god, what do I do now, what do I do now?”

Balaam and her husband, Che Lapointe, live in a remote location along a forest service road in the Princeton area.

The couple doesn’t have a landline, but they do have access to the Internet.

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“My first thing was to go on Facebook and ask people for help,” Balaam said. “And I typed it in capital letters.”

In Princeton’s rants, raves and issues group, she pleaded for somebody to call 911, listing her location and that her husband was having a heart attack

“And apparently four different people phoned in for an ambulance to come for me,” Lapointe said.

But he still had to wait nearly 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

“That was, for me, I think, the scariest point, was sitting there waiting for the ambulance because I really thought I was going to die right there,” Lapointe said.


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In the meantime, some nearby loggers offered Lapointe aspirin, which was something the couple couldn’t find in their own house.

“We have five bathrooms where we live, and there wasn’t an aspirin in any of them. We have first aid kits, and no aspirin there either,” Lapointe said.


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The couple is now reminding other people to ensure their medicine cabinets are stocked with aspirin.

“Have them, even if you’re 35 years old, have them because your mother or your grandmother or the man on the street might collapse and need them,” Balaam said.

“I’m putting aspirin everywhere. In the truck, in the house, every bathroom. Every first aid kit,” Lapointe added.


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Lapointe is now recovering in Kelowna General Hospital, hoping to return home soon. He credits the quick response of people in the Facebook group with playing a big role in helping him get help so quickly.

“I knew somebody would help. I didn’t know who. I didn’t care who. But I knew somebody would help. And I think that’s a miraculous thing,” Balaam said.

Lapointe said he blamed smoking for his heart attack.

“And I’m done. Never again will I ever put a cigarette on these lips,” he said. “Because this is the scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Average Canadian house price fell 5.5% in the past year, realtor group says

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The average price of a Canadian home has fallen by 5.5 per cent to $455,000 over the past 12 months, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Friday.

The group that represents 125,000 realtors across the country says sales were higher in January than in December, but prices still sank compared to a year ago.

« Homebuyers are still adapting to tightened mortgage regulations brought in last year, » CREA president Barb Sukkau said.

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Ford won’t ask Lisa MacLeod to resign after group says it was pressured to support revised autism program

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he won’t be asking his social services minister to resign after an association of behaviour analysts said she pressured them to support changes to the province’s autism program.

Ford says he hasn’t spoken with Lisa MacLeod about the allegations made by the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis but has already ruled out asking her to quit cabinet.

The group says the minister told the association it would be a long four years for them if they did not publicly support the revamped autism program, which they say will leave many children without adequate levels of therapy.

Ford stood by MacLeod when asked about the matter on Thursday.

« I never ever, I want to repeat that, ever, ask Lisa to resign, » Ford said. « She’s done an incredible job. »

MacLeod’s office has not denied the group’s allegations and has said its priority is supporting families of children and youth with autism.

The head of province’s largest public sector union, opposition politicians and parents of autistic children are calling on MacLeod to resign over the matter.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said if MacLeod doesn’t quit, Ford should force her out.

« Lisa MacLeod is supposed to be a voice for children and parents at the cabinet table, » Horwath said in a statement. « Instead, she’s threatened them. »

Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said he was appalled by reports of MacLeod’s actions and called for her to step down.

« I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in Lisa MacLeod, » he said in a statement. « It’s unbelievable she would bully others to pay lip service to Doug Ford’s attack on autistic children. »

MacLeod announced last week that in order to clear a backlog of 23,000 children waiting for publicly funded autism therapy, families will get up to $140,000 to pay for treatment, though funding will be subject to annual caps that families and advocates say will fall far short of what’s needed for intensive therapy.

The funding is dependent on age, rather than individual needs. Families will receive a maximum of $140,000 for a child in treatment from the ages of two to 18, also dependent on family income, but advocates say intensive therapy can cost up to $80,000 per year.

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Children’s minister Lisa MacLeod urged to resign over accusation she bullied autism group

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Ontario’s largest public sector union and the NDP education critic are calling on Lisa MacLeod to resign, saying her behaviour toward an autism group was akin to bullying and inappropriate for a cabinet minister.

The Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysts said MacLeod — who is minister of children, community and social services — pressured them to provide a quote in support of changes to the province’s autism program, but without details they refused.

A spokesperson for Lisa MacLeod said the group levelling accusations against her was unwilling to work with the government on changes to the system.
A spokesperson for Lisa MacLeod said the group levelling accusations against her was unwilling to work with the government on changes to the system.  (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

They say MacLeod then told the group it would be a “long four years” if they didn’t.

A senior source in MacLeod’s ministry who is familiar with all meetings with ONTABA said different representatives attended the fourth and final meeting, and the tone had changed. The source said the ministry had been led to expect public support from the group.

The source said he “did not recall” MacLeod making such a statement.

A spokesperson for MacLeod said ONTABA was unwilling to work with the government on changes to the system.

On Thursday, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and New Democrat Marit Stiles said MacLeod should step down.

In a statement, Thomas said “I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in Lisa MacLeod … It’s unbelievable she would bully others to pay lip service to (Premier) Doug Ford’s attack on autistic children.”

On Twitter, Stiles said: “From our most vulnerable children& youth, to women & families fleeing violence, Minister Lisa MacLeod has consistently made decisions that cause them harm. As we head back to Queen’s Park next week, I’m hoping she does the right thing: #ResignLisaMacLeod.”

At a news conference in Woodbridge on Thursday morning, Ford said he had yet to speak to MacLeod about the controversy, but would — in part to ensure reports on the issue are “factual.”

Ford, however, also said he would “never” ask MacLeod to resign. “She’s an absolute all-star … she’s done an incredible job” on a difficult file, he told reporters.

A memo Wednesday to ONTABA members said of the Jan. 29 meeting: “The minister and her staff requested that ONTABA provide a quote of support, without providing full details on the program, and indicated that failure to do so would result in ‘four long years’ for the organization.

“The minister also indicated that if a quote of support was not forthcoming, a communication that behaviour analysts are ‘self-interested’ would be released from her office … In spite of the implied risk, the organization refused.”

One analyst who attended said it was “more akin to meeting with a mob boss than an elected official.”

The rift with ONTABA is part of an escalating division between the Ford government and some in the autism community in the wake of the Progressive Conservatives’ system overhaul, which MacLeod has pledged will make funding more equitable and clear the massive wait list for services within 18 months.

While several service providers and hospitals issued public endorsements of the plan after it was announced, parent support group Autism Ontario — which was praised for supporting the changes by MacLeod — released a statement Tuesday saying the organization “neither proposed nor endorsed” the revamp.

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy

Laurie Monsebraaten is a Toronto-based reporter covering social justice. Follow her on Twitter: @lmonseb

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Autism group says Ontario minister warned of 4 ‘long’ years if they didn’t publicly back changes

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An association of behaviour analysts says Ontario’s minister in charge of the autism program told them it would be a long four years for them if they did not publicly support recent changes.

The Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis says in a note to members today that Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod and her staff requested a quote of support a few days before the new program was announced.

They say the request came without providing full details of the new program — which they say will leave many children without the level of therapy they need.

The association says MacLeod and her staff indicated that failure to provide a supportive quote would result in « four long years » for the organization.

MacLeod’s office did not immediately provide a response. MacLeod announced last week that in order to clear a backlog of 23,000 children waiting for publicly funded autism therapy, families will get up to $140,000 to pay for treatment, though funding will be subject to annual caps that families and advocates say will fall far short of what’s needed for intensive therapy.

The funding is dependent on age, rather than individual needs for varying levels of intensity. Families will receive a maximum of $140,000 for a child in treatment from the ages of two to 18, also dependent on family income, but advocates say intensive therapy can cost up to $80,000 per year.

Families will receive up to $20,000 a year until their child turns six. From that time until they are 18 it would be up to $5,000 a year.

 ‘We were expecting more’ 

MacLeod also reportedly told the Waterloo Region Record that Autism Ontario was among the organizations that support her plan, but the group released a statement saying that isn’t true.

« Autism Ontario neither proposed nor endorsed the announced changes to the (Ontario Autism Program) and is concerned about the impact these changes will have on children and families accessing the program, » it said in a statement.

The president-elect of the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis said when her group met with government officials ahead of the policy announcement, they were disappointed in the tone.

 « Our meeting with the minister’s staff and the minister was prescriptive in nature, basically letting us know the direction of the changes, » said Kendra Thomson. « We were expecting more of a collaborative consultation process, given the gravity of the file. »

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Autism group says minister warned of ‘long, hard four years’ if they didn’t support changes

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Behaviour analysts say children’s minister Lisa MacLeod and her staff threatened to make their lives miserable for the next four years if they didn’t endorse the government’s changes to autism services.

In a memo to members Wednesday, the board of the Ontario Association for Behavioural Analysts said “the minister and her staff requested that ONTABA provide a quote of support, without providing full details on the program, and indicated that failure to do so would result in “four long years’ for the organization.”

It went on to say that “the minister also indicated that if a quote of support was not forthcoming, a communication that behaviour analysts are ‘self-interested’ would be released from her office … In spite of the implied risk, the organization refused.”

One analyst who attended the meeting said it was more “akin to dealing with a mob boss than an elected official.”

The rift with ONTABA is part of an escalating division between the Ford government and some in the autism community in the wake of its overhaul to the system, which MacLeod has pledged will clear the massive wait list for services in two years.

Parents of children with autism are also feeling bruised by the government’s dismissal of the Ontario Autism Coalition, a grassroots Facebook group of parent advocates, as “professional protesters.”

A senior source in the community and social services ministry said staff had met with ONTABA four times — and had provided details of the coming changes, and was under the understanding a supportive quote was planned. However, the source said, different representatives attended the final meeting and the tone changed.

The government “had a number of productive and cordial meetings” with the therapists as well as others in the autism community, from parents to service providers, said the source.

The source did not recall MacLeod saying that should the group not provide public support, rocky relations would ensue.

“She certainly said that we are committed to this plan,” said the source.

Several service providers and hospitals provided endorsements of the plan.

Meanwhile, the government faced more opposition from Autism Ontario, which said despite ministry claims, the organization will not be managing intake or dispersing money to families over the next year while the province overhauls autism funding.

Autism Ontario said its statement is aimed at correcting a “number of misunderstandings or assumptions,” since the government announced age-based funding caps to clear a therapy wait list of 23,000 kids, the organization said.

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The organization came under fire from angry parents last week when MacLeod suggested Autism Ontario was playing an integral part in her government’s plan to shift control of provincial funding for autism services from regional agencies to parents.

In at least one media interview, MacLeod said Autism Ontario will be directly involved with the new funding regime.

Under the changes announced by MacLeod Feb. 6, children with autism up to age 6 will receive lifetime caps of up to $140,000 until age 18, while those over age 6 will get $55,000. Funding will be aimed at low- to moderate-income families with those earning more than $250,000 no longer eligible, she said.

But parents, whose noisy protests in 2016 convinced the previous Liberal government to reverse a similar age-based funding scheme, say the Progressive Conservative plan makes the same mistake. They say the new funding falls woefully short of meeting the needs of children with complex needs whose therapy may cost as much as $80,000 a year. And it may be too much for others. It will likely mean cuts to 8,400 children currently receiving help with no funding cap, they add.

In a statement, ministry officials confirmed Autism Ontario will not be directly involved with the wait list or the funding.

Autism Ontario has been supporting families and people with autism in Ontario for the past 46 years and has parent representatives across the province through 25 local chapters, said spokesperson Katharine Buchan. It supports and advocates on behalf of both children and adults with autism through workshops, training and individual support, she added.

Social media attacks against the organization’s staff and volunteers, many of whom are also parents with autistic children, have been difficult, she said.

One part-time Autism Ontario staffer in a local chapter, who is a mother of an autistic child, called police over what she felt were threatening Facebook posts from another mother, Buchan confirmed.

“The anger is justified, but I’m not sure it makes sense to be directing it at one another when we need to be working together ensure that all children’s needs are met,” she said.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government should not be “labelling groups of parents who are doing their best for their children as professional protesters.

“It’s despicable. Shameful.” she added.

“They are using these tactics to try to besmirch these parents, parents who are very worried about their children,” she said in an interview

She called analysts’ claim they were pressured to endorse the autism overhaul “strong arming professionals in the autism field, trying to knuckle them down and prevent them from providing their professional opinion on the government’s changes.”

Kendra Thomson, the incoming president of ONTABA, said her organization was not provided with any details about how their profession would be regulated, and because they weren’t told what the government’s planned registry would look like, they could not publicly support it.

As for allegations ONTABA is a lobby group, she said it is a non-profit that represents a number of professionals and promotes evidence-based services.

She also said the group was not “meaningfully consulted” on the autism changes, and despite the discord, “if we were given the opportunity to provide meaningful conversation, that would surpass the tone and anything (communicated) to date.”

She said ONTABA’s representatives left that final meeting feeling very disappointed, though “the tone was consistent with previous meetings with myself and others.”

Louis Busch, a past-president of ONTABA who attended the final meeting with the minister and her staff, said he went as a “private citizen” and that it was a tense meeting from the outset, unlike any he has attended with the past five ministers to hold this portfolio.

Busch, a board-certified behaviour analyst who works with adults, said after pressing for details, they were told a regulatory college would not be announced, but a website would provide a list “which is not regulation.”

Busch noted that MacLeod said without public support from ONTABA, “it’s going to be a long, hard four years for you.”

“This was more akin to meeting with a mob boss than an elected official,” Busch said.

Meanwhile, at a Wednesday announcement on Ontario’s fiscal situation, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said there will no additional funding for autism services beyond the $321 million announced last week.

“There were 23,000 families with children with autism who received no help whatsoever, so this plan is a fair, sustainable, and equitable plan,” said Fedeli, noting it has been well-received in his hometown of North Bay.

“We all don’t have the same services that are readily available in the south, so we’ve delivered on that. That’s why at home they’re very happy with this plan,” the treasurer said.

With files from Robert Benzie

Laurie Monsebraaten is a Toronto-based reporter covering social justice. Follow her on Twitter: @lmonseb

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy

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Conservative Party reverses course on Trost, now says MP didn’t leak list to firearms group

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A year and a half after it accused one of its MPs of leaking a list of Conservative Party members to a firearms rights group, the party has changed course and now says Brad Trost had nothing to do with the leak.

‘In short, [the Leadership Election Organizing Committee] does not believe there is evidence that the Trost Campaign was responsible for leaking of the membership list, and … this matter is now closed, » said a statement by party spokesman Cory Hann.

In June of 2017, the Conservative Party alleged that the office of former party leadership candidate Brad Trost, the MP for Saskatoon University, gave a list of the party’s members to the National Firearms Association.

The Conservative Party used a practice called « salting » to trace unauthorized releases of its membership list: each leadership campaign received a slightly different copy of the list to allow officials to pinpoint leaks.

Trost, who finished fourth in the leadership contest, was ordered to pay a fine of $50,000 and an additional $22,000 to cover the party’s legal costs.

Trost’s campaign asked the courts to launch a judicial review of the party’s decision. The courts declined. In a decision released in May, 2018, the Ontario Superior Court said it couldn’t launch a judicial review of Trost’s case because the dispute involved a private organization.

The socially conservative Saskatchewan MP maintained his innocence and threatened to take his battle to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary to clear his name.

‘Insufficient evidence’

According to a statement from the party’s organizing committee, the list possessed by the National Firearms Association was the copy of the list given to Trost’s campaign, but « there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the Trost Campaign was the source of its leak. »

« Accordingly, the non-compliance ruling against the Trost Campaign by LEOC on June 8, 2017 has been overturned, » Hann said in a statement.

« The Conservative Party of Canada and the Trost Campaign have come to a settlement with regards to the financial aspects of the decision, including the fine and the judicially awarded costs from a related legal action. »

Despite the fact that his dispute with the party has been settled, Trost won’t be representing the Conservatives in the next election. He’s one of a handful of incumbent Conservative MPs who had to fight to run again for the party in the 2019 election. Trost lost the nomination battle to provincial politician Corey Tochor.

‘We’re extremely pleased’

While Trost initially suggested elements within the party were trying to oust him, he ultimately blamed the loss of his nomination on himself, saying he was « too complacent. »

Joseph C. Ben-Ami, Trost’s former campaign manager, told CBC News that it had been their argument from the outset that the campaign was not the only body to have access to Trost’s salted version of the list.

« We’re extremely pleased. Its exactly what we’ve said all along, » said Ben-Ami. « We never were in a position to dispute whether or not the list that was obtained by the National Firearms Association was the same that the party had provided to us.

« Our position was always that we were not, certainly, the only people with a copy of that list and we were not the source, and that was it … So we’re very happy. It’s taken a while, but there it is. »

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Halifax group takes ‘united stand against racism’ following incident on Parliament Hill

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A group of supporters took what they call a “united stand against racism” on Friday, after an apparent incident of racial profiling on Parliament Hill this week.

The Federation of Black Canadians said the incident took place when about 150 participants in Monday’s Black Voices on the Hill event in Ottawa were asked to wait in a parliamentary cafeteria ahead of their meetings with federal cabinet ministers.

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In a statement Thursday, federation spokesman Len Carby said that, according to people involved in the incident, a security guard responded to a complaint from a government employee who had been taking pictures of the attendees.

“He responded by labelling the delegates ‘dark-skinned’ and telling them to leave, even though established regulations allow civilians with the appropriate pass to be in that space,” Carby said.

READ MORE: Parliament Hill security investigating alleged incident of racial profiling

Halifax’s Trayvone Clayton was one of the young people attending the lobbying event. He says he confronted the person who made the alleged racially charged remarks.

“I didn’t approach the man with no threats, no aggressiveness, just as a calm guy and said: ‘What did you just say? Can you repeat that?’ And when I asked that question, he didn’t want to repeat it ‘cause he knows we heard what he said,” Clayton said.

Joseph Law, chief of staff to the director of the Parliamentary Protective Service, says the service is investigating and that it has zero tolerance for any type of discrimination.

Kate MacDonald, the co-founder of a non-profit in Halifax that works to bring marginalized communities to the forefront, also attended the event. She says Canada needs to do better.

“It felt dehumanizing so I think it was apparent that our value as humans was not equal at those moments,” MacDonald said.

“The fact that there were youth around absorbing that kind of vibe, that kind of energy, absorbing that kind of information really made me feel for generations to come and for the youth that we are trying to love and uplift right now.”

Clayton agrees, adding that he expects more from Parliament.

“I don’t want no apology through media, I don’t want an apology through no letters, I want it to be face-to-face,” he said. “I want Justin Trudeau there myself because he’s the one who has the power for everything in Canada right now. He makes the rules around here.”

READ MORE: Parliament’s security force seeks outside help to deal with harassment case backlogs in future

The federation said it has requested a meeting with Trudeau as it seeks a “formal commitment to end racial profiling at the federal level.”

Halifax MP Andy Fillmore says for him, this has been a week of learning.

“As good as we feel about Canada being an open, sharing and diverse country, we still have racism and we experienced what we believe is some of that this week in Ottawa,” Fillmore said.

“There is no place for racism anywhere in the country, let alone on Parliament Hill.”

The group of young people hopes their united stand will force Parliament to change the way it addresses black Canadians, putting a stop to systematic racism.

—With files from the Canadian Press and Whitney Oickle

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Funeral workers launch peer support group to help their mental health

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Organizers of a peer-counselling group for funeral home workers in Ottawa say they had a hard time finding help for their industry’s mental health challenges, so they made their own service.

« We’re trying to create a network, » said Melanie Giroux, an embalmer with Ottawa’s Hulse, Playfair & McGarry funeral home and co-founder of Ottawa Funeral Peer Support.

« We want to be able to bring people into our group, to allow them to grow this in other parts of Canada, so we can help every funeral director in Canada. Everyone needs it. » 

There is not a lot of research into the trauma experienced by people working in the death industry, but a peer counselling facilitator for the group said he’s been struck with how similar their stories are to the experiences of paramedics and police officers

« It’s a different level of trauma, but there’s been no support, » said Tom Kelly at a meeting on Tuesday night.

‘Vicarious trauma’

Giroux said she’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

« I think the injury is vicarious trauma, » said Giroux of the day-to-day experiences of workers.

« We deal with the trauma other people are experiencing. »

Melanie Giroux helped start Ottawa Funeral Peer Support. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

Co-founder Michael Dixon was first diagnosed with depression and PTSD three years ago.

He is a supervisor for Ottawa Mortuary Services, which transports human remains —  often working with police and the coroner, sometimes attending horrific collisions and homicide scenes. 

Last month he went to the scene of the fatal bus collision at Westboro station

He said when he started sharing his experiences caused by on-the-job trauma, he began hearing from colleagues who wanted to share their own. 

During the same period, he said two colleagues killed themselves and others had left the business. 

Creating a service

When Dixon went looking for some kind of peer counselling, he said not only was there none in Ottawa — but he couldn’t find any in Canada. 

That’s when he and a handful of colleagues got together to design the group.

Now about a dozen members — mostly funeral directors and other employees in the death services industry — meet to share their experiences.

They talk about how they build support networks to talk about « a really terrible call » and if a colleague is in crisis, they can line up professional counselling.

Dixon said the group has changed the way he monitors his staff and checks in after disturbing jobs. 

Giroux said the meetings help her understand the power of mutual support.

« I’ve learned I’m not alone, » she said.

Giroux said the group has been approached by workers in other communities and some of its members are planning to travel to meet with them.

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Small businesses in Alberta haven’t been this pessimistic in years, lobby group says

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Small businesses in Alberta haven’t been this pessimistic in years, according to an industry lobby group who says the oil-price differential is largely to blame — even if prices for Canadian crude have recently recovered.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says confidence among its Alberta members plunged in December and January, according to a monthly survey it conducts.

Prices for Western Canadian Select also plunged in late 2018, reaching a low point in late November, and CFIB chief economist Ted Mallett believes that’s related to the sudden shift in business sentiment.

« Because it’s in such recent memory, I think that’s why you saw a decline in optimism happen so quickly this time, » he said.

The CFIB’s « business barometer index » for Alberta plunged more that 15 points over December and January, falling to a level of 37.5 on a scale of zero to 100.

The index measures how CFIB members feel about the future.

Mallett said a score of zero would represent « perfect pessimism » (meaning every member surveyed expects things will be worse for their business in one year’s time) while a score of 100 would represent « perfect optimism. »

A score of 60 or more is usually associated with a growing economy, Mallett said.

The plunge over the last two months marks the sharpest decline in Alberta since the oil crash of late 2014, when the price for crude on world markets was cut roughly in half in a span of six months.

The CFIB’s ‘business barometer’ results for Alberta (in blue) and Canada (in red) over the past decade. (Canadian Federation of Independent Business)

Mallett said the massive oil-price differential that developed in late 2018 had a similar impact.

« The price for Western Canadian Select vis-à-vis WTI caused some big problems and concerns with businesses in the province, » he said.

« A large shift in the economics of oil-and-gas pricing has a big effect on other businesses all the way down the line. »

In an effort to close the differential, the Alberta government took an extraordinary step in December, mandating temporary cuts in the province’s oil production.

On Wednesday, the province announced it was easing those production limits because prices for Canadian crude had recovered to a sufficient degree.

But it’s unlikely business confidence will recover as quickly, Mallett said.

« It takes a long time for optimism to come back, » he said.

And that sentiment can have a broader impact on the entire economy.

The impact of business confidence

The CFIB is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of small businesses across Canada.

It has roughly 10,000 members in Alberta, which represents about six per cent of the 175,000 total businesses in the province.

If its members’ sentiments are representative of the broader business community, it could present a problem for the economy as a whole, says Anupam Das, an economist with Mount Royal University.

Business confidence matters, he said, because it affects investment decisions.

If there’s an optimistic sentiment out there, he said, businesses are more likely to hire more workers or expand their capital spending. But if the mood is pessimistic, the fear of losing money can make those investments less likely.

« When that fear comes into people, they start making certain decisions, » Das said.

« So I think the perception — or the fear — is, actually, an important factor. »

Political opinions

Speaking to a gathering of mid-sized city mayors in Calgary on Thursday, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney described Alberta’s current business climate as particularly dire.

Kenney said he’s hearing negative things from people who are looking at investing in the province.

« I was, just last night, meeting with the CEO of a global company visiting Calgary with a market cap of $50 billion who told me people aren’t walking away from investing in Alberta — they are running away from investing in Alberta, » Kenney said.

He didn’t name the CEO or the company.

Premier Rachel Notley spoke during an NDP rally in Calgary on Thursday while UCP Leader Jason Kenney addressed a gathering of mid-sized city mayors. (James Young/CBC, Monty Kruger/CBC)

Premier Rachel Notley, also speaking in Calgary on Thursday, said there’s been billions of dollars of new private-sector investment announced in the past couple of months alone and there is « more investment on the way. »

During an NDP rally at the downtown legion, she highlighted Inter Pipeline’s recent decision to go ahead with a $3.5-billion petrochemical project and Value Creation Inc.’s plan to invest more than $2 billion in an upgrading facility aimed at turning bitumen into higher-grade crude that can flow more easily through pipelines.

Both projects came as the result of government incentives aimed at spurring investment and diversifying the economy, Notley said.

« And we’re already seeing results, » she said.

The CFIB surveyed 276 of its Alberta members in December and January.

A random sample of that size would yield a margin of error of about 5.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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