Kenney outlines Alberta immigration recruitment plan with rural focus

CHESTERMERE — Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney says a United Conservative Party government would develop an immigration strategy to attract more entrepreneurs and focus on rural communities.

Kenney says Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government has failed to attract top talent from around the world, in part by running an immigrant nominee program that is tangled in delays and doesn’t focus on recruiting the best candidates.

“We’re trying to get the best bang for the buck that we possibly can,” Kenney said at a news conference Monday. “We have not been nearly as proactive or energetic as we should be in this program.”

In Edmonton, Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray said Kenney is wrong and processing times are quite speedy compared with what the NDP inherited from the Progressive Conservatives in 2015.

“Instead of people potentially waiting as long as two years, (they) are often processed within two months,” said Gray.

Kenney said his plan would better leverage existing resources provided by the federal government.

Ottawa remains in overall charge of immigration, but allows Alberta to bring in 5,500 new workers to fill job shortages under a nominee program.

Each worker can bring in three direct family members, meaning the program can result in 22,000 new permanent residents a year.

Kenney, a former federal immigration minister, said if his party were to win the spring election, it would immediately begin consulting on a new immigration approach and implement it in 2020.

He said it would include ways to reduce red tape and bring in more entrepreneurs and other job creators.

The United Conservatives would also create two programs to help rural areas stay economically viable. One would set aside 500 certificates for entrepreneurs willing to live and work in smaller centres.

“The biggest challenge facing rural communities … is population stagnation and decline,” said Kenney. “When the owner of the local hardware store in a small town decides to retire and no one buys it, that hardware store is not coming back. Those services are vital to the future of our rural communities.”

Kenney said about six per cent of immigrants to Canada settle in smaller centres.

A second program would be modelled after a similar successful venture in Manitoba, he said. Smaller communities that took time to recruit newcomers to fill jobs would have their needs prioritized, he said.

Kenney said the goal would be to bring in about 40,000 newcomers over the next four years under the two programs.

Kenney said the NDP has exhibited “no political leadership or focus.”

“Alberta has the least innovative provincial nominee program in Canada,” he said. “We’re one of the only provinces that does not proactively recruit top talent from around the world.

“We’re one of the only provinces that does not encourage entrepreneurs to come and create jobs through a provincial nominee immigration program.”

Just Posted

Rural communities could face policing bills

Province considering getting smaller and rural communities to pick up a portion of policing costs

Random Acts of Green Canadian tour comes to Red Deer

Red Deerians are being encouraged to lessen their impact on the environment.… Continue reading

Free blood testing for HIV, Hep C, syphilis offered Thursday in Red Deer

Anyone can drop by from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bower Ponds pavilion

Red Deer economy bouncing back but slowly: report

While Red Deer’s economy has been in recovery mode for the past… Continue reading

Red Deer cyclist dead after being hit by vehicle

A Red Deer cyclist was killed when he was struck by a… Continue reading

WATCH: 2019 Canada Winter Games will leave a lasting legacy, say organizers

It leaves Red Deer with the infrastructure and confidence to host future such events

Your community calendar

Wednesday Central Alberta Historical Society annual general meeting is 6 p.m. at… Continue reading

Couche-Tard wants to be a player in the sale of cannabis

LAVAL, Que. — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. wants to be one of the… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: A safe supply of water has long been a priority for Red Deer

The oldest part of the Red Deer water treatment plant on 54th… Continue reading

New parent charged in admissions scam, linked to $400K bribe

BOSTON — A woman accused of paying $400,000 to get her son… Continue reading

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re “stepping away” from ice dancing

Canadian ice dancing stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir say they are… Continue reading

Bruce Cockburn avoids impulse to get political with lyric-less new album

TORONTO — If anyone is looking for activist folk singer Bruce Cockburn… Continue reading

13 seasons in, stars reflect on success of ‘Heartland,’ Canada’s ‘comfort food’

HIGH RIVER, Alta. — Alberta-born actor Shaun Johnston had already had a… Continue reading

N.S. senior whose birthday card request drew international response dies

SYDNEY, N.S. — A Nova Scotia widower who received thousands of birthday… Continue reading

Most Read