EDMONTON - With an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, Alberta currently
fares better than any other Canadian province. But despite being fairly
insulated from the economic turmoil plaguing the rest of the world, our
oil-rich province's economy is not without problems.
south of the border, though, Alberta's biggest labour worry is that
there are actually 114,000 more jobs than people to fill them.
in an effort to help find solutions to that predicament, the Alberta
Coalition for Action on Labour shortage, comprised of 19 groups and
businesses, has been formed. Its key message is that it should be easier
for people to come and work in our prairie province.
look at the issue of labour shortages, the problem is getting worse, not
better," said Tim Shipton of the Alberta Enterprise Group.
now...the governments seem to be talking at each other and not engaging
in a conversation about the issues and finding productive, positive
ways forward," added Richard Truscott with the Canadian Federation of
To reverse that trend, the coalition believes the government should help by easing immigration restrictions.
the provincial front, they say to write to the Minister of Human
Services, Dave Hancock, who tells us he's already in agreement.
we need to make sure that every Albertan has an opportunity to get the
skills they need to participate in the economy, even with that we're
going to need others."
It's a realization that some local businesses can support.
Edmonton's All-Weather Windows, Paul Taylor said they're really
starting to notice the talent pool shrinking as the number of job
applications aren't keeping pace with order forms.
"It's just harder to get the right people into the organization," he said.
while they remember this pattern from the last boom, this time, experts
say there's a big difference: this boom isn't expected to be about
western Canada's oil industry, but rather, it is due largely to an aging
population and too many retirees.
Not everyone agrees with the
new coalition's views, though. The Alberta Federation of Labour believes
the problem facing Alberta is what it considers to be the government's
failure to set a reasonable pace to oilsands development.
these employers really want to be able to man these projects, then they
should talk to the government about approving 5 or 10 projects at once
instead of 65 multi-billion dollar projects going on all at the same
time," said the AFL's Gil McGowan.
He considers the coalition's
solution of loosening immigration restrictions to be a short-term
solution which will have long-term consequences of lowered wages.
said a better alternative would be for projects to be stretched out
over longer periods of time "so that our existing Canadian construction
labour force can do the work and then we can have 23 to 30 years of good
employment for our trades people as oppposed to 5 years of intense
development by temporary foreign workers followed by a bust, because I
believe that's where we're headed."
While the groups may
disagree on how to achieve change, both agree on that finding political
solutions is especially important now, before the problem becomes even