The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is on Alberta’s side in Ottawa when it comes to promoting trade infrastructure to get products to market, and finding ways to fill the huge number of job vacancies impacting business.
“There are all kinds of demands out there, whether it’s food, fuel, fertilizer, critical minerals, that Canada has an abundance in. We have a real role to play and Alberta’s a critical part of that,” said Matthew Holmes, the chamber’s senior vice-president of policy and government relations.
But he said those products need to get to the U.S. or to tidewater to access trading partners around the world.
“If we can’t get it to market, that becomes a real issue for the whole country, so that’s a message we bring to Ottawa regularly,” said Holmes before speaking at the Central Alberta Business Summit held at the Holiday Inn & Suites South on Tuesday.
Hosted by Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce, the one-day summit brought the local business community together to discuss future trends and challenges and to hear from business leaders.
Holmes said Alberta is one of the hot spots when it comes to job vacancies. In other parts of Canada, it’s more of a localized problem, but in Alberta, it’s across the province.
The good news is the recruitment campaign Alberta is Calling to attract workers from other provinces does seem to be working, said Holmes who has seen Alberta’s advertisements in Toronto’s subway cars and stations.
“I’ve heard people, and know people, who have relocated here. It’s a low-tax environment. There’s jobs. There’s a vision for growth and a, ‘We can do this ourselves kind of mentality,’ here in Alberta that you’ve always been really well known for.
“(Canadians) want to roll up their sleeves and get to work and they know they can do that here.”
He said the chamber is also pressing Ottawa to help expedite the immigration process to bring workers to Canada, and provinces need to be ready to put them to work quickly which helps both workers and communities.
“Ontario recently has been experimenting with engineers, nurses, and other high-demand skills right now to recognize some of the foreign credentials, and I think there’s more work that can be done along those lines.”
Holmes said the national chamber is focused on what Canada needs to do to grow its economy to improve the standard of living, which includes social programs.
Whether provincial or federal, the business community wants to work together with them to address the challenges and find the right solutions, he said.