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.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

Human waste ‘backlog’ from Red Deer to be spread on farmers’ fields this spring

Council approved $1 million to compensate for loss of crops

Red Deer city council tries to find more cost-savings

Many spending proposals are queried, discussed

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Red Deer man sentenced for child porn

Man sentenced to one year in prison after being arrested in major anti-child pornography operation

Replay Red Deer Jan. 14: Watch news highlights in pictures

Stories mentioned: Red Deer RCMP seize large quantity of cocaine: Read more… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Photo: Chilly work in Veterans’ Park

What a chilly job but somebody has to do it.… Continue reading

Boy, 15, one of three hit in Vancouver shooting

Police believe a man in his 20s was the target of the shooting

UBCO psychology professor placed under supervision with focus on “boundary issues”

Dr. Stephen Porter has stepped aside from his teaching duties

Alberta elementary school teacher arrested on child porn charges

Investigators charged a 44-year-old Pincher Creek man with possessing, accessing, and distributing child pornography

Report: Health problems could arise as Alaska warms

Climate change in Alaska has the potential to create serious physical and… Continue reading

U.S. cold snap was a freak of nature, quick analysis finds

Consider this cold comfort: A quick study of the brutal American cold… Continue reading

Canadian Kennel Club seeking to add 12 more dogs to its pack

2018’s incoming class could include the Portuguese sheepdog, Tibetan mastiff, rat terrier and Spanish water dog

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month