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Alberta amending tax rules to offer $5,000 incentive to out-of-province workers

The Alberta government recently unveiled plans to allocate $10 million from its budget towards enticing more workers to the province. This move comes in the form of the Alberta is Calling Attraction Bonus, which aims to draw skilled tradespeople from other parts of Canada.

Initially, during the last election campaign, the United Conservative Party had pledged a minimum of $1,200 to newcomers relocating to Alberta for high-demand jobs, like those in healthcare and trades. However, Premier Danielle Smith’s administration has decided to amend the Alberta Personal Income Tax Act to introduce a more substantial incentive. The proposed Alberta is Calling Attraction Bonus offers a refundable tax credit of $5,000.

Matt Jones, the minister overseeing jobs, economy, and trade, explained that this adjustment reflects the average relocation cost for Canadians moving from places like Ontario to Alberta, which amounts to around $5,000. Jones emphasized the need for a more compelling benefit to encourage individuals to make the move, hence the increase from the original $1,200.

The program, initially introduced by former premier Jason Kenney in 2022, was initially focused on attracting Canadians from Toronto and Vancouver. Last year, it targeted regions in Atlantic Canada and parts of Ontario, particularly aiming to bolster the workforce in sectors like hospitality.

Jones highlighted the pressing shortage of skilled tradespeople in Alberta, with specific emphasis on electricians, pipefitters, mechanics, welders, and crane operators. He also expressed the desire to address shortages in the construction sector, citing the necessity to meet the demands for housing, schools, hospitals, and employment opportunities resulting from significant capital investments.

However, the decision not to utilize the Alberta is Calling program to attract healthcare workers has drawn criticism. Opposition NDP health critic Luanne Metz accused the government of neglecting crucial staffing shortages in healthcare and childcare. Metz argued that while recruitment efforts are vital in these sectors, the current legislation fails to address these pressing needs.

Jones defended the decision by pointing out existing incentive programs targeting healthcare professionals and acknowledging the collaborative efforts among provinces to tackle healthcare workforce shortages.

Looking ahead, Jones mentioned the possibility of revising the Alberta is Calling program to encompass other sectors facing labor shortages, including healthcare and childcare. However, critics like Metz stress the urgency of addressing the immediate staffing gaps in these essential areas to ensure adequate services for Albertans.

As the debate continues, the Alberta government faces the challenge of balancing various workforce needs while ensuring effective recruitment strategies to meet the province's growing demands.



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