Employers’ participation critical to solving local labour shortage

Karen Link with Workforce Connection, led by Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, says she would like to see more employers involved with helping find solutions to the growing labour shortage.

The Government of Alberta has promised the program more money this year as it tries to balance the boom with the labour shortage.

Link says one of the big setbacks is the lack of exposure to trades at the junior high school level and unwillingness from schools to spend money on industrial arts programs, which can be very expensive. She says Workforce Connection will continue to develop programs to help employers recruit and retain Aboriginals, foreign workers and encourage them to hire more apprentices.

Business Edge, Jan. 18, 2007

Canadian firms look past slowdown

The Bank of Canada’s quarterly business outlook survey says labour shortages appear to be easing and with falling oil prices there is less concern about inflationary pressure. Thirty-five per cent of companies—mainly in Western Canada’s primary sector—say staffing issues are restricting their ability to meet demand.

Globe and Mail, Jan. 8, 2007

Jobless rate at 30-year-low

Canada’s unemployment rate was pushed back down to a 30-year-low in December, due to 62,000 people who found jobs. The high number of Canadians flocking to Alberta during 2006 helped to push the province’s employment rate up.

Alberta saw its largest growth rate in 26 years. The province represents only 10 per cent of working-age Canadians but was responsible for almost one-third of all employment growth in 2006.

CanWest News Services, Jan. 5, 2007

Feeling well enough to work longer?

A recent poll conducted by Decima Research found that 58 per cent of working Canadians surveyed plan to do some sort of paid work in retirement. Sixty-five per cent of those aged 45-64 say they plan on working past retirement.

Experts believe most people will retire when they turn 65, provided they have the financial means to do so. The poll also found that 56 per cent of working Canadians surveyed say they do not think they would have enough money to live on if they stopped working after retirement.

Globe and Mail, Jan. 3, 2007

Alberta the land of opportunity for more and more Canadians

More Canadians are migrating to Alberta in search of high wages and a promising lifestyle. In the last six years, 474,000 people have migrated to Alberta from other parts of the country. In 2006, 102,000 Canadians migrated to Alberta. The movement is having an impact on other provinces. In the first nine months of 2006, every province except B.C. lost residents to Alberta.

Harry Hiller, director for the Alberta In-Migration study says the big reason for the migration is the oilsands expansion, which fuels employment and demand for labour all over the province. The Conference Board of Canada believes the current numbers coming into the province will slow, but Alberta is still expected to average 30,000 newcomers a year for the next quarter century.

Edmonton Journal, Dec. 27, 2006

Alberta labour woes hamper firms

A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey has found that fully three quarters of Alberta corporations feel a lack of labour is affecting their plans for expansion. That’s compared to only 62 per cent of Canadian firms who felt that labour shortages were hurting them. The same survey also found that 85 per cent of Alberta’s private companies are planning to increase their focus on retention in 2007.

Calgary Sun, December 20, 2006

Rules eased for hiring foreign workers

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Monte Solberg says the government is now making it easier for Alberta companies to hire temporary foreign workers from other countries. The improvement trims three weeks off of the usual 13-17 week process for 170 difficult to fill positions.

Companies trying to fill jobs on the list will no longer have to advertise as extensively for Canadian workers in order to convince the federal government for their need. The lists will apply to businesses in Alberta and British Columbia. Alberta is facing a shortage of 100,000 workers within the next 10 years.

Solberg also hopes to announce steps in the future to make it easier for workers who arrive in Canada on a temporary permit to stay permanently. The list of 170 occupations is available at

Business Edge, Nov. 15, 2006

Jobless rate takes dive as western provinces hum

Statistics Canada reported that the national jobless rate decreased to 6.2 per cent last month, from 6.4 per cent in September. The economy reported a net gain of 51,000 jobs—23,000 of them in Alberta alone. In Alberta, unemployment fell half of a point to three per cent, the lowest the province has experienced in 30 years.

Business Edge, Nov. 10, 2006

Money not everything for mobile workforce

Canada’s small-business owners are getting creative to attract and keep staff. In Alberta, the restaurant and food service industry is really feeling the crunch. Mark von Schellwitz, western vice-president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) says it is only a matter of time before everybody will be affected across the country.

Small businesses are using a variety of techniques to deal with the shortages, and their associations are lobbying federal and provincial governments for longer-term solutions. Short-term solutions include: signing bonuses, guaranteed wage increases for seasonal workers, providing accommodations, being more flexible with hours and working conditions, and training the underqualified.

Business Edge, Oct.13, 2006

Chamber labour policy prompts new immigrant processing initiative

Edmonton Chamber delegates who attended the Annual General Meeting of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (held May 27) put forward a proposal to the Honourable Monte Solberg, federal immigration minister, to ensure immigrants who move to Alberta can do so in an efficient manner.

A federation of 127 chambers across Alberta stressed the need for federal immigration authorities to work more closely with their provincial counterparts. As a result, Minister Solberg announced the creation of new temporary foreign worker units in both Alberta and B.C., effective Sept. 1.

Commerce News, Sept. 5, 2006