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UCP unveils planned incentive to bring people to Alberta

The United Conservative Party is promising a signing bonus to help attract and retain workers to keep Alberta’s economy moving forward.

UCP leader Danielle Smith met with reporters in southwest Calgary at Braeside Automotive Thursday morning to share the workforce plan.

The bonus would target skilled trades and professions, which are currently seeing labour shortages in Alberta. Smith is looking to build on this by launching the “Alberta is Calling” signing bonus. Previous Alberta is Calling campaigns were launched across the country, hoping to attract workers from cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

“We’ve made smart decisions to grow our workforce, from the Alberta is Calling campaign, to funding thousands more seats in high-demand programs at Alberta’s post-secondary institutions,” said Smith.

According to the UCP plan, eligible newcomers would receive a $1,200 payment after their first full year of living here. Healthcare, childcare and trades were the specific groups Smith mentioned for this bonus.

The province’s website outlines many of the areas that could see shortages of at least 3,000 workers by 2030. These areas include: Construction trades, information systems analysts, graphic designers, teachers and accounting technicians – plus more.

The UCP plan will also focus on keeping newly-graduated students in Alberta. They plan on doing this through the Alberta graduation retention tax credit. Graduates could be eligible for up to $10,000 in credits if they graduated from an accredited Alberta post-secondary school, are residing in Alberta, and working in a high-demand field.

The planned program increases in value for those students going from a one-year certificate ($3,000) to a four-year degree ($10,000).

Alberta has had retention success with graduating international students, leading the country alongside Ontario at a 90 per cent retention rate, according to New World Immigration. Alberta had an average annual population growth rate of 3.7 per cent, from January 2022 to January 2023 according to a report from the Government of Alberta’s website.

Smith hopes that these new incentives will continue to build on the success Alberta has seen in the past four years in terms of population growth.

“Rachel Notley and the NDP raised taxes on businesses, sending investment fleeing away from the province and jobs along with them and she’s said she would do it again,” Smith said in a UCP statement.

“Albertans cannot afford to put the province’s growth and diversification at risk and go backwards with the investment and job-crushing policies of the NDP. That’s why we’re building on opportunities for Albertans that will create and attract jobs, diversify our economy, and move Alberta forward.”