By Anthony Capkun
September 9, 2013 – B.C.’s Shirley Bond (minister of jobs, tourism and skills training and minister responsible for labour), Alberta’s Thomas Lukaszuk (deputy premier and minister of enterprise and advanced education) and Saskatchewan’s Bill Boyd (minister of the economy) released the following statement today:
Canada’s western provinces are the economic driver of our country, and we are looking at unprecedented opportunities across the region—and those come with challenges on the skills and labour front.
It was the vision of premiers Christy Clark of B.C., Alison Redford of Alberta and Brad Wall of Saskatchewan that led to our working group being tasked to build on the New West Partnership by finding ways to cooperate and make it easier for businesses and consumers to benefit from economic growth across Canada’s West.
Today’s informal meeting was about seeking ways we can seize those opportunities and tackle those challenges together. We discussed the Labour Market Agreement renewal and Canada Job Grant program. While we support involvement by employers in skills and job training, and targeting programs to better meet employers’ needs, we remain concerned that the proposed Canada Job Grant would jeopardize the success of current training programs. We look forward to a constructive dialogue on investments in skills training.
Skills development, advanced education and Aboriginal skills training were also front and centre at the meeting. Our provinces are committed to ensuring there are jobs for Western Canadians and that they have access to training to be the first in line for those jobs. We will continue to share best practices and look at other means to strengthen our collective approaches to skills development.
Though making sure Canadians are first in line for the jobs that will come with a growing Western economy, we recognize that attracting foreign talent is one key element to our overall success and our erasing potential skills shortages. Immigration will help fill the gap for all three provinces. We will work together to influence federal immigration policy and program decisions to ensure immigration and, in particular, economic immigration and temporary foreign worker programs meet the needs of the West.
We want to build on the discussions we had today—which is why we’ve agreed to meet again in Alberta. Working together we can accomplish more for our provinces, our economy, and our country—which is why we will look for innovative solutions together.