Edmonton – If elected leader of the PC Party and Premier, a Ric McIver government will immediately take steps to create a made-in-Alberta labour force policy that keeps our province running as the economic engine of Canada.
After visiting with the owner of a local car wash this morning, Ric McIver announced a three-point plan to address Alberta’s unique labour issues and prevent our engine from stalling out.
“I’ve said many times on this campaign: Alberta is facing a real shortage of skilled workers – 96,000 people – over the next decade,” stated Ric. “We need greater flexibility in our labour force policy, including the area of immigration. Quebec has this control for cultural and linguistic reasons, and Alberta needs this control for economic reasons.
“Ottawa has imposed a one-size-fits-all solution on Alberta that clearly does deal with the reality of our economy,” Ric continued. “Alberta is not Ontario. The recent changes hit small- and medium-sized business owners the hardest. Across Alberta, businesses are faced with reducing hours of operation or closing altogether. That’s not acceptable.”
One local business owner, Len Kozak of Splash N Dash Car Wash, is facing this challenge head-on. “I’ve tried to find workers for my business, and quite frankly many Canadians will not take these entry level jobs. Someone from Toronto is not going to move to Edmonton to work in a car wash. Ottawa’s requirements and new changes make the program useless to fill lower- or entry-level positions.”
Today, Ric unveiled three key initiatives. His first is establishing a province-wide database for all Alberta employers to post job listings and Alberta workers to find jobs. Employers will be required to post their jobs to this database for a fixed period of time, before being eligible to access the Temporary Foreign Worker program.
“This requirement will ensure that Albertans are at the front of the line for any new jobs,” said Ric. “It will also ensure any Albertan eligible and able to work has a useful tool to help them find those jobs, but also provides accountability to take the jobs that are out there.”
Ric’s second initiative is working with the other provinces to petition the federal government to give the provinces the same level of control over their own Temporary Foreign Worker program as Quebec.
“Quebec has a distinct culture and language,” said Ric. “Alberta has a distinct economy and unique needs not faced elsewhere in Canada. Both provinces deserve control over their labour markets and immigration to address their distinctive needs.”
Ric’s third initiative is to work with the federal government to get more flexibility for the Provincial Nominee Program. This flexibility includes cutting in half the provincial component of the application process – from the current eight to 12 months down to four to six months.
“The Provincial Nominee Program allows highly-skilled temporary foreign workers a pathway to permanent citizenship,” said Ric.
“If you’re like me, you don’t want to come to Alberta as a temporary foreign worker. You want to come to Alberta to make it your home. We should make it easier for highly-skilled immigrants to do just that.”