Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins

Good time for businesses to trade overseas

With free trade agreements recently negotiated with the European Union and South Korea, the time is ripe for Alberta businesses to look overseas.

With free trade agreements recently negotiated with the European Union and South Korea, the time is ripe for Alberta businesses to look overseas.

That was the message delivered by Erin O’Toole, Canada’s parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade, during a meeting with business owners and economic development officials in Blackfalds on Thursday.

“We’re trying to get small to medium-sized exporters thinking about these new markets and not just relying on the U.S.,” O’Toole told reporters after the closed-door gathering with about a dozen people, including Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins.

The MP for Durham, Ont., pointed out that the Harper government has struck free trade deals that involve nearly 40 countries.

“We want to make sure that these exporters and employers are talking about these opportunities now, so they can hit the ground running.”

With its relatively small population, Canada is dependent on foreign markets, said O’Toole.

“One in five jobs in Canada right now is directly attributable to trade.”

O’Toole and Calkins are scheduled to take part in a similar meeting in Ponoka this evening, with labour challenges and the recently announced changes to the temporary foreign worker program to be the theme.

But labour issues also crept into Thursday’s discussions, confirmed the two Conservative MPs.

“We’re back to where we were in 2006-2007, where we had a really hot economy here before the recession came in,” said Calkins.

“We’re back to those kinds of full employment now.”

He said he hears repeatedly about businesses that are losing opportunities for growth because they can’t find staff.

“They’re turning down business because they don’t have enough people working for them.”

O’Toole said it’s apparent to him that the federal government has to be mindful of Alberta’s unique needs when it develops programs related to issues like temporary foreign workers and infrastructure.

“That was a key take-back for me, in terms of providing some flexibility in areas of the country that are driving our economy.

“So we have to have an approach to the (temporary foreign worker) program that recognizes the differences.”

O’Toole said he regularly consults with Canadian businesses and their representatives to ensure opportunities like the opening of new trade markets aren’t overlooked.

The resulting feedback also helps to smooth hurdles that could interfere with business, he added.

“We don’t want to throw barriers in front of people that are already exporting or trying to expand exports.”


Just Posted

Red Deer church donates to Safe Harbour

It was all about helping those in need at Safe Harbour in… Continue reading

Former firefighter with PTSD sues Syncrude over suspended benefits, dismissal

CALGARY — A lawsuit filed by a former firefighter and paramedic against… Continue reading

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

HALIFAX — Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi may have hoped to quietly disappear from… Continue reading

Democrats aren’t buying Trump’s shutdown-ending ‘compromise’

WASHINGTON — In a bid to break the shutdown stalemate, President Donald… Continue reading

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

Curtain rising Sunday night on total lunar eclipse

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The celestial curtain will be rising soon on… Continue reading

At 30-day mark, shutdown logjam remains over border funding

WASHINGTON — Thirty days into the partial government shutdown, Democrats and Republicans… Continue reading

Holocaust victims buried after remains found in UK museum

LONDON — The remains of six unidentified Holocaust victims were buried in… Continue reading

Giuliani: ‘So what’ if Trump and Cohen discussed testimony

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani left open Sunday the… Continue reading

Photos: Rocks fly at 37th Annual Oilmen’s Bonspiel

Twenty-nine teams gathered at the Pidherney Curling Centre in Red Deer for… Continue reading

Death toll reaches 79 in Mexico fuel pipeline fire horror

TLAHUELILPAN, Mexico — People in the town where a gasoline explosion killed… Continue reading

With Trump out, Davos chief eyes fixing world architecture

DAVOS, Switzerland — The founder of the World Economic Forum says U.S.… Continue reading

Mexican pipeline explosion kills 71, leaves nightmare of ash

TLAHUELILPAN, Mexico — Gerardo Perez returned Saturday to the scorched field in… Continue reading

Most Read