Which way will we pay for our vital public services?
- Despite all the media reports and shrill calls for cuts, Alberta does not have a spending problem, it has a revenue problem. We could raise billions of dollars simply by making our overall tax regime comparable to other provinces. In a new report, the AFL calls for a grown-up conversation about how we can pay for the vital public services Albertans want. To become a part of this conversation, join us as we launch our new report. For details ...
Let the government know how much you still value public health care
- The Alberta government is pressing ahead with its controversial health-care plans, giving the public little opportunity to have a say. After intense pressure, it has reversed its policy on invitation-only meetings on the issue and is now allowing the public to attend. It also has an online survey, full of code words and language that replicates the rhetoric of Ralph Klein's Third Way and the 2002 Mazankowski report. Privatization of our health-care system remains a threat. For information ...
Spending cuts hurt youth and aboriginals just when they need help
- The Alberta government cut spending on employment training programs by $23 million, despite its own numbers showing dramatic job losses in the province. The recession is hurting young people, aboriginal people, workers in forestry industries, and workers in the construction trades, just to name a few. And yet, AFL analysis shows that the government targeted funding cuts to programs that benefit those Albertans. For press release ...
Remember Bill 11? We do
- Bill 11 (Alberta Healthcare Protection Act) was introduced in April 2000. It was a blatant attempt by the government to privatize health care, but opposition through protests organized by labour and the Friends of Medicare forced the government to remove most of the offensive sections. For the poster ...
Sign the petition on the future of education in Alberta
- The Alberta Government intends to introduce a new School Act. This act needs to be based on some key principles, among them that educational success should not depend on the background, social status or economic characteristics of learners and their families. For Alberta to thrive, all children must have the opportunity to find and nurture their talent. To read more ...
June 21, 2010 - National Aboriginal Day
For more information on community events leading up to the celebration, go to: http://www.aboriginal.alberta.ca/documents/NAD_eventListJune16.pdf
June 22, 2010 - No Free Lunch: Financing the Priorities of Calgarians (Parkland Institute)
120, 333 - 5 Avenue SW
For more information, go to http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=128332787200279&ref=mf
June 25, 2010 - 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; June 26, 2010 - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Labour Centre Meeting Hall (downstairs), 10425 Princess Elizabeth Avenue. For more information, go to: http://www.edlc.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=105:edmonton-municipal-election-training&catid=38:our-schools&Itemid=13
June 22, 2010 - Grande Prairie - Alberta Health Act Consultation
June 23, 2010 - Peace River - Alberta Health Act Consultation
Did you know ...
- $5.5 billion - the amount Alberta could increase its revenue by abandoning the flat-rate income tax that benefits primarily wealthy Albertans;
- $10 billion to $18 billion - the amount Alberta could increase its revenue if it adopted an overall tax regime comparable to other provinces;
- $90 billion - the amount collected in non-renewable resource revenues since Alberta's net debt was eliminated in 1999-2000;
- $4 billion - amount put into the Heritage Fund since 2000;
- $5 billion - amount withdrawn from the Heritage Fund in since 2000;
- $135 billion - amount that would be in the Heritage Fund if all resource revenues had been put in since 2000;
- $7 billion - how much would be generated annually by the Heritage Fund of $135 billion;
- $135 billion - (that's another $135 billion) amount the province would have generated by collecting and saving resource rents at a rate closer to other oil-producing jurisdictions;
- $460 billion - the amount in Norway's Heritage Fund.
Alberta cutting training programs amid zero job growth: New AFL research shows Alberta cut job training by $23 million despite increased need by aboriginals and young workers
EDMONTON - Alberta is the only province in Canada that hasn't seen job growth since last summer, but the province is cutting employment training programs by more than $20 million, affecting aboriginals and youth the most.
"The government had in place a number of very successful programs that helped aboriginals and youth overcome obstacles and find meaningful work," says Mike Sutherland, a former job-placement co-ordinator with Native Counselling Services in Edmonton. "The stats show us that these programs are needed now more than ever."
While all other provinces have seen positive job growth since July 2009, Alberta alone has a stubbornly poor record of job creation.
The most recent Labour Force Survey showed unemployment among aboriginal people continues to rise. Aboriginal unemployment (both men and women, off-reserve aboriginal people) rose to 17 per cent in early 2010, up from 14 per cent in 2009. Youth unemployment remains stubbornly high at 12.6 per cent, up from 11.4 per cent just a year ago.
At the same time, a recent AFL analysis shows Alberta dramatically cut job training programs in the last budget, especially for youth and aboriginal people.
The government of Alberta cut employment training programs by $23 million for 2010. Alberta's unemployment rate hit a 14-year high in March 2010, reaching 7.5 per cent for the first time since 1996.
Youth and summer employment programs saw 25 per cent of their budget disappear between 2009 and 2010, while upgrading and skills development was cut by 16 per cent. Aboriginal skills development experienced a seven per cent reduction. A further $10 million will be chopped from career development and programs that partner with industry.
Most other jurisdictions in the Group of 20 (G20) industrialized nations continue to increase employment and training program budgets.
"These job training programs were things that the government should be proud of. They showed how a small investment in people has a large return, many times over," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "We urge the Government of Alberta to rethink these cuts to these most important services and restore funding to employment training programs."
Sutherland saw first -hand how employment programs like Quest for Success helped aboriginal people overcome obstacles to getting and keeping meaningful employment. "Through concentration on personal development, the people I worked with were able to learn how to do all the practical things that many of us take for granted - things like budgeting and other life skills that are vital to getting and keeping work. Programs like Quest for Success taught these basic skills and the outcome was obvious."
Gil McGowan, President, AFL @ 780-483-3021 or 780-218-9888 (cell)
Employment Training Program Cuts and Unemployment Rates
Employment Training Programs in Alberta, 2009-2010
|Career Development Services||60.02||52.41||-12.68%|
|Basic Skills/Academic Upgrading||27.48||22.93||-16.55%|
|Summer Temporary Employment||9.56||7.41||-22.48%|
|Aboriginal Development Partnerships||3.68||3.41||-7.39%|
Alberta Unemployment Rates, 2008-2010
|Unemployment Rates, Alberta||2008 April||2009 April||2010 April|
|Youth aged 15-24||6.40%||10.90%||12.60%|
|Aboriginal Peoples (off-reserve)||7.90%||16.90%||17.00%|
Workers to showcase prowess: Calgary plays host to the Olympics of skills, trade and technology this week
The WorldSkills Competition also highlights the opportunities available in everything from auto body repair and aircraft maintenance to landscape gardening and fashion technology.
"The traditional view of skilled trades is that the jobs are very manual and dirty and involve working with your hands," says Shaun Thorson, executive director of Skills/Competences Canada.
"Working with your hands remains a strong element, but technology has definitely made a significant impact on the trades."
Growing interest in the environment, for example, is pushing the creation of a new generation of work, Thorson notes. Turbine manufacturing, home retrofits, solar panel installation, wind farm construction and transit-line building will all create skilled trade jobs.
"Many skills are transferrable to these new industries," Thorson says.
According to the Alberta Federation of Labour, the move toward creating more environmentally sustainable energy sources could provide jobs for electricians, computer and electrical engineers, iron and steel workers, welders, construction workers and sheet metal workers.
It's common knowledge that a number of Canadian industries face a significant shortfall of skilled workers. From manufacturing to food service to the oil and gas/mining and technology support sectors, the rate of people retiring from the workforce is far exceeding the numbers entering it.
Events like the WorldSkills Competition, being held in Alberta for a week starting tomorrow, shine the spotlight on opportunities available in the skilled trades.
For automotive service technician apprentice Dan Van Holst of Waterloo, competing on the world stage is a welcome chance to put his skills to the test.
"The main focus of the competition is to promote skilled trades among youth," says the 21-year-old Conestoga College graduate, whose high school shop courses piqued his interest in pursuing a skilled trade.
"I'm following in my father and grandfather's footsteps," says the third-generation technician.
"I've been around it all my life . . . It really interests me the way cars are progressing every day with electric vehicles and more and more hybrid vehicles."
The average annual salary for skilled trades exceeds the national average by more than $10,000 and employment rates for apprenticeship programs stands at 88%, Skills/Competences Canada reports.
An apprenticeship typically takes two to five years to complete and combines 80% on-the-job training with 20% in-class technical training.
"People need to realize that it takes a number of years to become fully certified. We need to get people into training," Thorson says.
That's particularly important now as the economy begins to rebound.
"We will see shortages as the economy starts to pick up," he says.
London Free Press, Mon Aug 31 2009
Byline: Linda White
New Government Safety Ads Fall Flat
- New, gory health and safety ads from the Alberta government aimed at young workers strike the wrong chord with workers. The new, web-only, ads are designed to use graphic blood and gore to shock young workers into working safely. Unfortunately, the ads send a message that young workers are "stupid" and that is what causes accidents. The AFL strongly criticized the ads and pointed to a similar campaign in Ontario for how to do it right. Read the criticism and see the ads ...
The Moral of the Story...
- Is that arts, media and politics always mix. This year's Parkland Fall Conference, running November 14-16 at the UofA campus, examines the issue of culture, media and politics and how the language we use affects the shape of our society. The Conference will look at framing, myths and metaphors and how they are used to shape political realities. Speakers include Tariq Ali, Murray Dobbin, CBC's Nora Young and many others.
Unions and Coops - Building Together
- Unhappy at work? Try firing the boss. Worker Coops are a viable alternative to traditional workplace ownership, and one unions are increasingly looking to as possible ways to save jobs and improve working conditions. A one-day workshop on November 12 in Winnipeg, hosted by the Western Labour-Worker Coop Council, explores how the labour and coop movements can work together more closely to develop more strong worker-centred workplaces.
An Educated Worker is a Powerful Worker
- The latest AFL/CLC Annual Jasper School is fast approaching. With 21 courses being offered over two weeks, there is something for every activist looking for an advantage with their employer. From Collective Bargaining to Advanced Health and Safety, the School promises to be chock full of both learning and socializing. The School is open to affiliates of the AFL. Interested students should contact their local union about attending.
Check out the New Digs!!
- The AFL has re-located to new, more centrally located offices in Edmonton. We recently hauled all our stuff to a new downtown location, located on 101 Street just south of 107 Avenue. The address might be new, but all our other contact information remains the same.
National Boycott of Petro-Canada
The Canadian Labour Congress has officially declared a National Consumer Boycott of Petro-Canada. 260 workers, members of CEP Local 175, at the Petro-Canada refinery in Montreal have been locked out for almost a year - since November 17, 2007.
The CLC is asking Canadians to refuse to fill up at Petro-Canada stations and to inform the company you will not be patronizing its stations until it settles a fair deal with its workers.
December 6: Talking about Violence Against Women
The Alberta Federation of Labour Women's Committee is hosting a one-day deliberative dialogue on the impact of violence against women on our work and union roles as well as its impact on our communities and within society.
Guest speakers include Jan Reimer, Executive Director of Alberta Council of Women's Shelters and Elisabeth Ballermann, President of Health Sciences Association of Alberta.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
ATA Offices, Barnett House
11010 - 142 Street NW, Edmonton
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Registration Fee: $80.00 (Register by Nov. 17)
Did you know ...
Inequality in Canada
- Inequality in Canada has "increased rapidly in the past 10 years".
- Canada now ranks 18 out of 30 OECD countries in income equality, below Sweden, Germany, France and even Hungary.
- Canada spends less on unemployment insurance and family benefits than most OECD countries.
- The reason for growing inequality is the rich are getting richer, leaving most Canadians behind.
Source: OECD (2008), "Growing Unequal: Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries"
The 40-year-old contractor killed on an oilsands site Tuesday was crushed by a giant dump truck.
"He was run over by the heavy hauler truck," Workplace Health and Safety spokesman Barrie Harrison said, updating the progress of the investigation on Wednesday.
The contractor worked for Finning Canada at Suncor's Millennium Mine site, about 25 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. The accident happened shortly before 11:45 a.m. while employees were trying to move a broken-down truck. Two other employees were injured. One was treated on site and the other was taken to a hospital in Fort McMurray and released.
The man's name and hometown have not been released, but RCMP say he was not a temporary foreign worker.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said he has been told the man was a third-year apprentice machinist and member of the International Association of Machinists.
Tuesday's accident is at least the third serious accident involving a giant oilsands mine truck in just over three months. Christopher Van Moorsel, 26, died April 26 after his small pickup was run over by one of the massive trucks. Police told his family the driver just didn't see him, said future brother-in-law David Charlton.
Then on May 24, a 46-year-old man was forced to jump out of the cab through a wall of flames when his truck caught fire.
He suffered second- and third-degree burns and had to be airlifted to a hospital in Edmonton.
Oilsands trucks are the largest in the world. The Caterpillar 797B stands more than three storeys high and has a hauling capacity of 400 tons.
McGowan said historically the oilsands have been one of the safest areas of the sector. A spokesman for Suncor said the company has only had one incident in the past two years in which an employee or contractor had to take time off work due to an injury.
"But these two fatalities raise red flags," McGowan said.
He is worried the pace of development in the sector endangers workers' lives.
"We're concerned that people are being rushed and that in some cases they're being thrown onto work sites without the proper training."
Edmonton Journal, Page B8, Thurs July 10 2008
Byline: Elise Stolte
The death of a teenager working at a building material supply store near Edmonton last month is raising questions about the need to improve Alberta's safety code.
Mitchell Tanner, 16, was killed on June 7 at the Rona Building Centre in St. Albert. According to media reports, Tanner was a passenger on a forklift, which was being operated by a 17-year-old, when it tipped over and crushed him. The incident is still under investigation by police and provincial officials.
"What we hear is that neither one of these young men were trained and shouldn't have been on the forklift, but we have no way to confirm this," said Gary Wagar, executive director of the Alberta Construction Safety Association.
"If this turns out to be true, there are significant implications for the company, because they were using the forklift without proper authority or training."
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) said Tanner's death may have been avoided with tougher legislation.
"We sent a letter to the minister and have been raising concerns for two years about a lack of a code of practice for forklifts," said Gil McGowan, AFL president.
"There is some language in the occupational health and safety code about heavy equipment in general."
Wagar agreed that there is a requirement in the safety code to train workers when they operate equipment that poses a hazard, but that the forklift is not specifically mentioned.
According to McGowan, Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Code is too quiet on the matter. The only two provisions require a legible load rating chart and that if the lift has seat belts, the belts must be used and be maintained in good condition.
"Because our code says nothing about forklifts, employers do very little to ensure they are used safely," he said. "There is inadequate training on what should and should not be done and the result, unfortunately, are accidents."
McGowan said forklifts are a regular and particularly problematic safety problem in workplaces.
"There needs to be regulations about forklifts in particular, because the accident rate is so high. Every year there are dozens of accidents that involve the improper use of a forklift," he said.
"These are dangerous pieces of equipment and nobody should get behind the wheel without proper training in safety and forklift operation."
Wager said that the provincial government and industry associations already developed a safety awareness program for schools.
A safety video for the program deals with the issue of mobile equipment and specifically addresses the use of forklifts.
"The provincial government spent $750,000 on the program, but it was pulled before the last election," Wagar said.
"We have written a letter to Hector Goudreau, minister of employment and immigration, to make this program available. The construction industry in Alberta supports the release of that program aimed at young workers."
McGowan said that worker and some employer representatives pushed for tougher forklift rules, including certification of operators, when the safety code was revised a few years ago. However, it was rejected by other employer groups and the government.
McGowan said he believes that the government needs to move immediately to implement the Manitoba model for safety protection on forklifts, which has more substantial training and ongoing monitoring of credentials.
"There is so much more that can be done," he said. "Look at Manitoba. They have a comprehensive code of practice for forklifts. Operators must be certified by an independent trainer, and the employer has a series of responsibilities for keeping the forklifts safe."
Journal of Commerce, Mon July 7 2008
Byline: Richard Gilbert
The electricians' trade union in Alberta is screening some new immigrants because of concerns over certification.
Some Chinese immigrants are seeking high-paying employment on oilsands projects as electricians, but the union doesn't trust the federal government's regulation of Red Seal qualifications.
"People from outside Canada come for a better life. They go to Ontario and say they were qualified as electricians and are allowed to challenge the provincial Red Seal," said Tim Brower, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 424.
Most of immigrant workers are qualified electricians, who write the electricians trade exams in Ontario and trade in their certificates for the equivalent document in Alberta.
However, an increasing number of the workers obtained their diplomas without gaining the proper experience.
According to the union, some of these newly ticketed electricians have never been trained properly.
"Some of these people are good and have qualifications. Some people have never been qualified or on a construction site in their lives," he said.
The Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education and Technology confirmed that they have suspended the acceptance of all industrial electrician certificates issued from outside Alberta.
"There was criticism of certified industrial engineers coming in from Ontario," said Donna McColl, assistant director of communication with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Technology.
"Questions were asked about the qualifications of some folks on the job site. The Red Seal certification was obtained in Ontario from a certain organization and that organization is currently under investigation."
According to Brower, there is a company in Ontario that teaches people to challenge the provincial Red Seal exam, with the help of an interpreter.
However, after these electricians are hired, they no longer have the assistance of an interpreter.
For some of these workers, it also became clear that they were not qualified construction electricians.
"The school in Ontario was training people to challenge the exam and giving them a road map to Alberta," he said.
In response to the situation, the IBEW is checking the references and the work histories of Chinese and Indian immigrants, before they obtain jobs in the Alberta oilsands.
"We have always trusted the government to make sure that a high standard is maintained, but we can't trust the government anymore," said Brower.
"We have to make sure they are qualified electricians. There is a safety concern here, because we don't want anybody to get injured."
The province is more strict about certification.
"Alberta has more stringent pre-screening and follow up on credentials," said Brower. "They can't challenge the Red Seal with an interpreter who is qualified in that trade."
McColl said that the matter is still under investigation, but the ministry has been holding all applications for equivalency for the industrial electrician since February.
However, this move is not enough for some.
"The government has stopped issuing equivalencies, but they are still not going out looking for people to disqualify," said Brower, who added he believes there could already be hundreds of unqualified people working in the province.
A spokesman for the Alberta Federation of Labour said that this problem may extend to other trades.
"The provincial government is only stepping in to stop certification from out of province for the electrical trades," said Gil McGowan, AFL president.
"They are not doing it for the other trades. I have a serious concern about these type of outfits that are diploma mills. They are not giving workers the skills needed on the work sites, but just show them how to pass the Red Seal certification exam."
McGowan said he wants every provincial government in Canada to crack down quickly on these schools, because they undermine the system of trade evaluation and certification.
Journal of Commerce, Mon Jun 30 2008
Byline: Richard Gilbert
Students at Paul Kane High School in St. Albert have created a memorial at the school for Mitchell Tanner, 16, killed on the job in a lumberyard at the local Rona.
Alberta's workplace safety codes are under a microscope after a teen was crushed to death by a forklift this weekend at a St. Albert Rona Building Centre.
Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan says Mitchell Tanner's Saturday death could have been prevented if the province had tougher legislation when it comes to operating forklifts.
"Accidents on forklifts are very common here in Alberta and part of the problem is that the (provincial) government, nor many employers, recognize how dangerous these pieces of equipment really are," said McGowan.
"If we had more appropriate safety codes around the use of forklifts, this could have been avoided."
Employment Minister Hector Goudreau told Metro current safety codes in Alberta are some of the toughest in Canada and already do the job in preventing deaths and injuries of workers operating forklifts.
"We're not at the stage to comment on whether or not all the rules were followed (in this incident) and it's going to take a while to get a full report," said Goudreau.
"We know young Albertans are very capable of learning and capable of handling some equipment ... but we need to find out what happened here and to see if this is something consistent with forklifts."
Students at Paul Kane High School where Tanner attended Grade 10 also made a makeshift memorial for the teen along with creating a tribute page on Facebook.
Tanner is described by students as an amazing guy who was always a good friend, say students on the social networking website.
"You're the nicest kid I ever met and the world could use more guys like you," said Alex Kane in a Facebook wall posting about Tanner.
Metro Edmonton, Tues Jun 10 2008
The number of workplace deaths in Alberta soared 24 per cent in 2007 -- to one of the highest numbers on record -- highlighting occupational dangers and inadequate safety training provided to workers flooding into an overheated economy.
Occupational fatalities in the province jumped to 154 in 2007 from 124 in 2006 -- numbers the Stelmach government says are symptomatic of inexperienced workers entering potentially dangerous workplaces.
"There's no denying that 154 workplace fatalities is way too many," Employment and Immigration Minister Hector Goudreau told the legislature Thursday. "One fatality is way too many."
The minister noted, however, the provincial injury rate hit an all-time low in 2007, based on the lost-time claim rates.
Nevertheless, as Alberta's population has exploded in recent years with the economic boom, so, too, have the number of workplace deaths. The 154 fatalities in 2007 were the most in at least 10 years and approached the record 169 deaths recorded in both 1980 and 1982.
But the 24 per cent spike in deaths in 2007 far surpassed the 3.3 per cent increase in the size of Alberta's workforce, which reached almost two million people.
For Rich Smith -- who lost his son Sean in December to a workplace accident -- the jump in the fatality rate is "disturbing."
"That's not a good figure," Smith told the Herald.
He noted, though, the family does not make a connection between the statistics and Sean's death, and he would be disturbed by the numbers even if his son had not died.
"Our son is not a statistic. It's an accident, whether it's one of 154 or one in 10 makes no difference," he added. "The impact on us is the same."
Sean Michael Smith, 28, was killed when a drill crew was moving a rig near Waterton Lakes National Park on Dec. 28 and a "clamshell" lid collapsed, hitting Sean on the head. An investigation into the incident by Workplace Health and Safety officials is ongoing.
Smith said he believes Alberta is, overall, a safe place to work, but that the current pace of life and work is probably impacting safety.
Included in the 2007 fatalities were 44 motor vehicle incidents, 47 workplace incidents and 63 occupational disease deaths, such as asbestosis. The true number of deaths is probably higher because the province won't cover many farm workers in provincial workplace legislation.
Many 2007 workplace incidents included employees being crushed to death by equipment, killed by long falls or electrocuted.
One of the most unfortunate fatalities -- also a stark example of how workplace deaths can affect anyone -- involved a 54-year-old restaurant worker who tripped over a case on the floor while carrying several trays. The worker broke a leg and died subsequently in hospital due to complications brought on by a serious post-operative wound infection.
Goudreau suggested the alarming numbers result from several factors, including a fresh wave of new workers being hired who aren't ready for a certain line of work, as well as companies failing to properly train all their employees. He said the government will ratchet up its efforts with employers and workers in hopes of curbing the disturbing trend.
The spike in the fatality rate between 2006 and 2007 should raise alarm bells for both the government and employers, said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.
"It's an indication there's a real and growing problem with safety on worksites across the province," he said. "Workers are paying with their bodies and sometimes their lives."
McGowan said government has an "obligation" to step up enforcement during times of economic boom because employers often cut corners, usually relating to health and safety. Instead, it has been "business as usual," he said.
McGowan acknowledged there had been a slight dip in the number of work-related accidents between 2006 and 2007, but said over the long term, both years saw dramatically higher rates than the province has traditionally experienced.
In 1996, there were 98,000 workplace accidents; in 2006, there were 181,000, McGowan said, adding the workforce has not doubled during that time.
"For them to say we're moving in the right direction is to ignore what has actually been happening in the last decade," he said.
Opposition parties demanded the government immediately increase the number of workplace safety inspectors and random inspections of job sites.
"The government has paid nothing but lip service to this issue," said NDP Leader Brian Mason. "They've never taken effective action to reduce workplace injuries."
Liberal employment critic Hugh MacDonald said all Albertans -- including employers, workers and politicians -- have a responsibility to ensure the alarming fatality rates quickly improve.
"Everyone has an obligation to ensure that trend is not only halted, but reversed," MacDonald said.
Workplace fatalities in Alberta 2007: 154 2006: 124 2005: 143 2004: 124 2003: 127 2002: 101 2001: 118 2000: 118 1999: 114 1998: 105
Record number of fatalities: 169 in both 1980 and 1982
Calgary Herald, page A1, Fri Apr 18 2008
Byline: Jason Fekete and Gwendolyn Richards
The Alberta Federation of Labour reacted swiftly today to the release of a new Conference Board of Canada report saying that by 2025, Alberta will have an annual shortfall of 332,000 workers. The AFL challenged the assumptions made by the report, and argued the report is just more of the reckless thinking that is overheating Alberta's economy.
"Quite frankly, their numbers on the labour shortage are just ludicrous," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "They are based upon the assumption that current growth patterns will continue for 20 years, and there will be no net in-migration to Alberta from other provinces. Both assumptions are wrong. It is clearly designed to create the biggest shock possible."
"More importantly, its recommendation for the massive use of temporary foreign workers doesn't fix the problem," adds McGowan. "Current training and apprenticeship programs in Alberta are sorely lacking - something the Conference Board points out in its study."
McGowan points to the AFL's recent report, Beyond Chicken Little, which outlined that the core of Alberta's short term labour difficulties rests in its poor apprenticeship completion rates and inadequate investment in training. Less than half of students enrolled in apprenticeship complete their apprenticeship on time. This is due in large part to the fact that less than 55% of construction employers use apprentices - there is nowhere for apprentices to learn the trade.
Of more concern is that the Report is a perpetuation of short-term thinking that permeates Alberta decision-makers. "The status quo approach is 'take the money and run'. We are seeing no long term planning, no attempt to manage the pace of economic growth, or to prevent the oilsands from overheating our economy," observes McGowan. "It is irresponsible."
The AFL argues that we need to develop an economic development vision for Alberta, which takes into account the level of development that can be sustained over time without damaging the labour market or the environment.
"We can prevent labour shortages by pacing our growth and by fixing our flawed training systems," notes McGowan. "Panicked reports screaming about massive labour shortages do not make our economy more sustainable. Only changing our attitudes about economic development will."
- 30 -
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ (780) 915-4599 (cell)