Alberta Fights to Create Jobs as Election Looms

Job creation in Alberta becomes an election campaign centrepiece as Calgary’s unemployment rate is now the highest among Canadian cities.

Calgary now has the highest unemployment rate in Canada, and with an election looming, the pressure is on for the government and Opposition to show how they can kill the trend.

The latest jobs numbers from Statistics Canada remain stagnant in Alberta. Although the province has 3,800 more jobs than it did last month, the trend factors in the creation of 11,500 public-sector jobs and the loss of 7,000 private-sector positions.

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Alberta’s province-wide unemployment rate has now reached 7.3 percent, while unemployment in Calgary is now the highest among Canadian cities at 7.6 percent. Edmonton’s is slightly lower at seven percent.

Premier Rachel Notley was discouraged to hear the latest job numbers. She was in Calgary last week to announce a $600-million private investment from Inter Pipeline Ltd. to build a petrochemical upgrading facility. She said her government plans to continue to attract investments in the province through its Made in Alberta incentive program.

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“We’re going to continue to do stuff like this,” Notley said. “To generate more employment, to invest in infrastructure and to continue to fight to get the pipeline to tidewater.”

Meanwhile, the opposition United Conservative Party is aiming to make job creation its main election platform piece.

In the last two weeks, the UCP has announced a job creation tax cut for employers to incentivize hiring as well as a promise to cut the corporate tax rate from 12 percent to eight percent.

But the StatCan figures don’t reflect the large number of unemployed Albertans who have exhausted their employment insurance.

Some estimate the number of unemployed engineers alone in the province is in the thousands.

“For some families, that might be the only paycheque — or the last paycheque — and for others, it’s cutting their family revenue in half. So in all cases, it makes it hard for survival for Albertans, and it’s a sign Alberta is on the wrong track,” McIver told Global News.

The government returns to the legislature on March 18 for a speech from the throne. By law, the next provincial election must take place before May 31.

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