Should Oil Companies Get a Lower Tax Rate for Reducing Commuters? Councillor Allan Vinni Thinks So.

A motion was proposed by Councillor Allan Vinni to allow a lower tax rate for oil and energy companies who operate in the region in exchange for the companies using fewer commuters and trying to fill positions with local workers instead. The goal of the proposal is to place a priority on local workers and help stabilize the local economy. The council will be debated at the council meetings on April 5, 2016. During an interview given shortly after the motion was made Vinni explained the reasoning behind his proposal. “Not very many places in the world have 80,000 people living in their community permanently, with another 40,000 flying in and flying out, not paying local taxes and doing work local people would like to see. Other communities would be rightfully questioning why that many people can’t just live here and put the community first. We need to decide if we’re going to be a work camp or a community.”

In exchange for receiving a lower tax rate Councillor Allan Vinni wants to see oil companies who operate in the oilsands region make a commitment to fill positions with local workers first, only turning to commuters when this is not possible. Vinni talked about the FIFO culture and how it impacts Wood Bufffalo, saying “They just didn’t seem willing to do anything about the FIFO culture or, at best, just saw it as a complex problem involving competition between companies. FIFO is a very complex issue, I understand that. But if we’re going to reduce their taxes, which is what they’ve been wanting, I don’t see how I could ever support reducing them if they’re not willing to do something for the residents. We see companies offer incentives at projects within commuting distance of the community, but there’s a number of different factors on why skilled workers choose to live a commuting lifestyle. I’ll just say that we’re certainly open to having these discussions with the municipality and key stakeholders now.”

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