Alberta is calling…again: Campaign launched to bring workers from eastern Canada

By Alejandro Melgar and The Canadian Press

The Alberta government launched a second “Alberta is Calling” campaign to attract skilled workers from Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

Alberta Jobs, Economy and Northern Development Minister Brian Jean says Alberta is Calling, is coming off the heels of a similar campaign announced last summer.

The initial campaign, announced by former premier Jason Kenney, targeted Canadians living in Toronto and Vancouver.

The new one focuses on people in St. John’s, N.L., Charlottetown, Moncton, N.B., and Saint John, N.B., Halifax, as well as parts of Ontario, including London, Hamilton, Windsor and Sudbury.

“This time, we are hoping that people from across Ontario and Atlantic Canada answer. We deployed the first phase of this highly successful campaign in the summer of 2022, and the response? Well, it has been outstanding,” Jean said Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park in southern Alberta.

“Nearly 33,000 Canadians heeded our call and moved to Alberta in quarter three of last year alone.”

He adds that since last summer, around 70,000 people moved to the province, which he says is the “largest inflow of people” Alberta has had in 20 years.

The province saw a net interprovincial migration of around 20,000 people in the third quarter of 2022, which is the highest in the country. Interprovincial migration represents movements from one province or territory to another.

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Jennifer Henshaw, regional vice-president for the Prairies and the North for Restaurants Canada, said the tourism and hospitality sector was especially hard hit by the pandemic.

“They’re still struggling with a number of operational challenges. Topping the list is labour shortages. Restaurant and accommodation employment levels are around 12 per cent below where they were pre-COVID levels,” Henshaw said.

“Many restaurants have had to pivot and reduce hours and are only operating at around 80 per cent of their pre-pandemic capacity due to labour shortages.”

Jean says residents in the targeted areas will hear ads on the radio, and see billboards on buses and trains to “showcase some of Alberta’s best-kept secrets, including the mountains.”

He adds this won’t be the last incarnation of the Alberta is Calling program. He said in the future, it will likely send out an international call to fill vacancies in areas such as health care.

“Obviously, we would want to target those countries where we need people who can actually come in with the fewest amounts of barriers, that means language barriers,” he said.

“That also means opportunities to have industries that are very similar to ours … similar educations. We have not identified those countries yet.”

Alberta has most affordable housing in Canada: Jean

Jean says there are roughly 100,000 vacancies for workers in high-demand sectors, including skilled trades, health care, accounting, engineering, technology and also in the service and tourism sector.

In addition, he says the province has the most affordable housing in the country.

“People can, for instance, sell their house in Vancouver and Toronto and come here and buy four houses here in Alberta,” Jean said.

“I live in one and rent three. That’s the kind of market we have right now.”

According to data from Vibrant Communities Calgary, 18 per cent of households need affordable housing, and says Calgary is the “most unequal city in Canada after Toronto.”

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said after Alberta Budget 2023 was unveiled that he has concerns the province is not worried about housing.

“People are dying in the streets because of lack of support. Our businesses are hurting,” he told reporters in Edmonton.

“I think there’s not a proper understanding of how critical the situation is for Edmonton.”

That tone was adjusted a week later, after Sohi’s first meeting with Premier Danielle Smith. During the meeting, he presented the premier with seven requests, which included money for shelter spaces, housing units, addiction help and downtown revitalization.

A study from the University of Calgary shows affordable housing has fallen by nearly 40 per cent in 30 years on a per capita basis in Edmonton.

With files from Carly Robinson and Cole Fortner

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