Alberta is making a push to lure northern Ontario residents to the western province.
The campaign is called Alberta is Calling.
It was created last year to help address the province’s labour shortages with the objective of luring people from other parts of the country to live and work in Alberta.
The campaign promotes Alberta’s economic advantages, including a booming technology and innovation sector, while drawing attention to the fact that Alberta offers the highest weekly earnings and lowest taxes in Canada.
It also promotes the province’s lifestyle, which includes close proximity to world-famous mountains and parks for year-round hiking, skiing, and biking.
The campaign took direct aim at people living in Toronto and Vancouver in the initial phase.
This year it is branching out to target certain southern Ontario cities like London and Windsor and northern Ontario.
President of the Northern Policy Institute Charles Cirtwell is not surprised by the tact.
“I’ve been suggesting to the leaders in northern Ontario that we should have been targeting Alberta for the last five years. So, turnabout is fair play, I guess,” says Cirtwell.
Cirtwell also understands why Alberta would target northern Ontario.
“Where are the skill sets? That’s what they’re looking at? They’re looking at, okay, who has the capacity to do the jobs we need done? We ask ourselves that question, and the answer is Alberta, right? The skills that they use in the petroleum industry are readily transferable to the mining sector, to the forestry sector, and so it makes perfect sense.”
Cirtwell says it is one of the big challenges facing the region as it develops policies around recruitment and retention.
Statistics Canada notes during the 2021-22 fiscal year, Ontario saw an estimated 47 thousand more people leave the number that settled in the province.
Cirtwell sees First Nations people as being one of the big keys to filling the vacancies.
“Those individuals are already there. They have the skills. They have the interest. They have the family connection to the region. And so in some cases, the simple fact is immigration is not going to be enough to solve the problem.”
“We need to target where we’ve had success at, the work that many communities are doing around trying to encourage First Nations to enter into nursing. It’s been a huge growth sector, and we should continue to do that because it’s worked. We know that the skills are there to take advantage of.”