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Alberta ad campaign urging Prince Edward Island workers to go west

A new ad campaign coming out of Alberta is attempting to convince skilled workers to leave P.E.I., which is also dealing with a labour shortage, and relocate to Western Canada.

The “Alberta Is Calling” campaign now running on private radio, billboards and social media is recruiting workers in multiple fields.

“We need people that are skilled in construction,” said Brian Jean, Alberta’s minister of jobs, economy and northern development.

“We need professors to educate our children. We need school teachers. We need nurses, lots of people in the healthcare field; we need them. We need doctors.”

Noting that Alberta has higher wages, lower taxes, and a lower cost of housing than the Canadian average, Jean said it would be all right if people want to head west for seasonal jobs, but the province is also pushing for workers to relocate the entire family and make the move permanent.

A man with a grey beard wearing a blazer sits in front of a large piece of artwork showing a city skyline at sunset.
Brian Jean, Alberta’s minister of jobs, economy and northern development, says Alberta will continue its ad campaign trying to lure Maritimers out west until April 9. (CBC News)

So far, the approach has been working. The first phase of the campaign targeted only Toronto and Vancouver residents, and Jean said 45,000 people moved to Alberta after the ads ran.

Now they’re taking aim at Maritimers.

“This time we’ve actually expanded it, not just going to Toronto and to Vancouver,” said Jean. “We’re also going to the Maritimes, which doesn’t have the high cost of housing, but it does have high skilled, highly educated young people who want to relocate”

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Local pain

Jean said the first phase of the campaign wasn’t aimed at Islanders, but around 300 people from P.E.I. did move to Alberta while it was running.

That’s 300 too many, according some local employers.

“One is a big number right now,” said Corey Falls, the owner of C.P. Construction Services. “”Every ‘one’ is a massive impact on every job site. We can’t afford to lose anyone.”

Two construction workers stand on a red scissor lift installing wall boards in a building under construction.
Corey Falls currently employs 35 people but could double his workforce if he could only find the workers. (Shane Fowler/CBC News)

Falls employs 35 workers, and could double his workforce if he could just find the people. He doesn’t fault Alberta for trying to solve its labour shortage problem this way, though; he too is running ads to find workers.

“It just shows the increase of the industry, from one end of Canada to the other,” said Falls. “It raises awareness that everyone is looking for skilled labour and a skilled workforce. So we’re no different than any other province.”

When I left to work in Alberta you couldn’t find a job here. But now the opportunities are virtually endless.— Corey Falls

Falls himself left Prince Edward Island to work in Alberta when he was 18, but came back to raise his family. He said the landscape has changed for workers over the years.

“When I left to work in Alberta, you couldn’t find a job here,” said Falls. “But now the opportunities are virtually endless.”

A promise of money

Despite the promise of more money, some local workers say there’s more than enough work on the island to keep from uprooting.

A man wearing black-rimmed glasses and a dark blue toque smiles at the camera while standing on a sidewalk downtown.
Brayden Monaghan is an apprentice plumber working in Charlottetown. He says the promise of Alberta money is enticing, but there’s enough work on P.E.I. to keep him close to friends and family, at least for now. (Shane Fowler/CBC News)

“Alberta’s got a lot of money out there — I mean, if you like money you can go out there,” said Brayden Monaghan, an apprentice plumber. “I love money, but I’m only young, and I kind of like where I’m at…

“I’ve got family here, friends, and it’s kind of hard to leave,” said Monaghan. “But if the money is all right, maybe. Maybe someday.”

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