Alberta government tries to sell 'turning a corner' message on the economy
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Alberta government tries to sell 'turning a corner' message on the economy

(Lucas Meyer - 660 NEWS)

The Alberta Government is hoping its new jobs report will show citizens the economy is improving, despite the fact Calgary’s unemployment rate hit 10.2 per cent in October.

Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous spoke in Calgary Monday, joined by two entrepreneurs at the Assembly Coworking Space in the northwest to discuss the new data.

“We’re starting to turn a corner and trending in a positive direction,” Bilous said.

The report says between August 1 and October 31, the provincial economy added 25,000 jobs and thousands more are expected to come from massive infrastructure projects, diversification, small business opportunities and other investment.

For example, the government estimates an average of 10,000 jobs per year for the next three in infrastructure, while the new facilities supported by the Petrochemicals Diversification Program are expected to add 3,000 during construction and 1,000 once operations begin.

The NDP says the 401 jobs created from the Alberta Innovates technology commercialization programs will continue to grow and there’s been increased drilling due to Alberta’s Modernized Royalty Framework.

But following Stats Canada’s new numbers showing double-digit unemployment in Calgary for the first time since the early 1990s, Bilous said he recognizes there are Calgarians not seeing progress.

“Somebody who is sitting at home in Calgary who has lost their job may look at this announcement and go, okay, this might be good news for some Calgarians, for some Albertans, but how has this helped me?” he said, adding there are opportunities available now despite the downturn.

“There are spaces like this one where people with ideas who may be in the past haven’t taken that chance or looked at turning it into a business or commercializing an idea, maybe now is the time for them to do that.”

One of the entrepreneurs who appeared with Bilous, Payload CEO Sean Languedoc, said when it comes to Calgary, it pains him to see empty office spaces.

“The challenge that Calgary’s had has been they come out of computer science programs and they go straight into a cubicle at some big oil company doing integrations with a large enterprise system and they don’t get that entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “A company can start with two people, I’ve got 15, 16 now and you create this ecosystem where you’re feeding off each other and then programs that help make money available to it to get start-ups going.

“It’s tragic that there’s people like that living in south Calgary looking at a paper for a job somewhere else, when they could be coming back and working with entrepreneurs and helping build those companies.”

Wildrose Shadow Economic Development and Trade Minister Prasad Panda said, however, it was embarrassing that Bilous would make such an announcement in Calgary.

“If the minister was serious about giving hope to Calgarians and bringing investment back to Alberta in a major way, he would convince his colleagues to scrap several of their damaging tax increases and burdensome new regulations,” Panda said in a release. “Those actions alone would send a strong signal to all Albertans that this government is ready to put its ideology aside and focus on jobs and the economy.”

The official opposition’s release points out the NDP has admitted its carbon tax will lead to a 0.4 per cent drop in GDP and that this is an attempt by the government to “sugarcoat the anemic job numbers” since they were elected to office, as there have been over 47,000 full-time job losses since last October.

To view the jobs report, click here.