Danielle Smith says Alberta needs the 'entrepreneurial spirit' and 'work ethic' of 'freedom-loving' immigrants

Alberta's Premier claims that more immigrants coming to the province would make it a better place, as they bring 'tremendous benefits.'

Smith says Alberta needs the 'entrepreneurial spirit' and 'work ethic' of 'freedom-loving' immigrants
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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith claimed that more immigrants coming to the province would make it a better place, as they bring "tremendous benefits."

"While you may be new to our province, your willingness to take risks and your love of the freedom our province offers makes you as Albertan as anyone," said Smith at the Summit on Fairness for Newcomers in Calgary.

She argued that new immigrants bring "critical skills, entrepreneurial vigour, a strong work ethic, and the dynamic energy of your own cultures" to Alberta.

Smith attributed Alberta's ability to attract the world's best and brightest to its entrepreneurial spirit, prosperity and economic outlook.

According to a Statistics Canada report released in December, Alberta workers continue to have the highest weekly earnings of any province, at $1,268. Alberta families earned a median after-tax income of $104,000 in 2020 — $7,000 more than Ontarian families.

The latest estimates from Statistics Canada indicate that Ontario had the highest level of international migration in the past 50 years. Historically, the GTA accounted for approximately 80% of net international migration to Ontario.

From January 2022 through October, immigration data surmised over a quarter of new permanent residents planned on residing in the Toronto region — among the most expensive real estate markets nationwide.

A September report from the Alberta Treasury Branch found that nearly 10,000 more people moved to Alberta from other parts of Canada than left in the second quarter of 2022.

In the same quarter, Ontario lost the most significant number of people — mostly young people around 25 — to interprovincial immigration, contributing to the increase in new Alberta residents. Exactly 21,008 Ontarians left for other provinces, including 6,281 who moved to Alberta. 

"Since last summer, nearly 70,000 individuals have moved here, the largest inflow of people we have seen in two decades," said Adam Legge, president of the Business Council of Alberta.

"Alberta has a fantastic value proposition between opportunity and quality of life, and the Alberta is Calling campaign has helped share this message." 

The Alberta is Calling campaign highlights the province's economic advantages, including the booming technology and innovation sector and offering Canada's highest weekly earnings and lowest taxes, while attracting skilled workers across trades, health care, food service and hospitality, accounting, engineering and technology to choose Alberta over other provinces.

In a keynote speech to Alberta Enterprise Group members on March 2, she said Ontario Premier Doug Ford didn't like the Alberta is Calling campaign in her first call with him after she became premier.

On Friday, Smith said Alberta needs immigrants to fill jobs. She claimed it has to offer the support newcomers need. 

An attendee told her he has been in Alberta since November and has received plenty of support. 

Moreover, Smith said newcomers bring professional training and years of experience in fields with significant shortages. She said leaving newcomers unemployed or in positions they are overqualified for is a huge burden. 

At the Summit on Fairness for Newcomers, the premier spoke about how progress on foreign credential recognition is happening. When Smith worked for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, she made it her top priority to lobby governments for foreign credential recognition. 

Smith acknowledged the province had more provincial immigration nominees this year and pledged to create new streams for newcomers moving forward. 

For example, the Alberta government under then-Premier Jason Kenney said he would prevent future healthcare worker shortages by establishing an agreement with the Philippines government.

"We are so grateful for the passion and work ethic they've brought to this country," said Kenney in October.

Smith's predecessor said the agreement would grant Filipino nurses "access to navigating our complex regulatory system, streamlined assessment and licensing programs, greater access to bridging seats and clinical placements, a bursary program to help with costs associated with credentialing, and there will be options to establish further partnerships."

According to Smith, her government believes that improving employment conditions for newcomers is a necessity. Amid a skilled labour shortage, she said Albertans need to work together to do all they can to ensure everyone can work to their full potential. 

Smith said effective legislation "rests on a foundation of reliable information, and we are looking to you for that," and claimed the future of the province depends on newcomers. 

"Talented and driven people are lining up to live here, dreaming of big things," she said. 

"Now it's up to us to figure out how to get more newcomers through the door and into the economy quickly and efficiently while maintaining our high professional standards."

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