As Alberta campaigns to attract workers, economists say the competition is healthy

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OTTAWA –


When Zeel Shah’s companion left Toronto for a job in Edmonton in 2018, the younger couple had to determine which metropolis provided the future they wished for themselves. 


Shah, now 28, says she and Deep Cheema in contrast the lives they may have in Toronto and Edmonton and concluded their residence possession targets had been extra achievable out West. 


“We wanted to eventually settle down,” she mentioned. “As a first house, we didn’t want to spend like one million dollars.” 


A yr after Cheema moved, Shah joined him in the a lot colder and less-populated metropolis. In 2021, the couple purchased their first residence — a townhouse — collectively in Edmonton. 


Shah says wanting again, shifting to Alberta was the proper resolution for his or her now household of three.  


Alberta is at present vying to attract extra younger individuals like Shah and Cheema, and economists say it is a good factor for provinces to compete for employees.


With labour shortages prevalent throughout the nation, the western province is concentrating on residents of Canada’s costliest cities in a marketing campaign to attract employees, making an affordability pitch it’s hoping shall be too onerous to resist.  


“What did the Albertan say to the Torontonian? You’re hired,” reads one among Alberta’s adverts in a downtown Toronto subway station.  


“Find things you’d never expect. Like an affordable house,” reads one other. 


The second part of the Alberta is Calling marketing campaign is making the case for why Torontonians and Vancouverites would possibly need to relocate to the oil-rich province: cheaper housing, good pay and shorter commutes. 


At a marketing campaign launch occasion in Toronto final month, now former Alberta premier Jason Kenney spoke instantly to the metropolis’s younger individuals.  


“I want to make a special shout-out to younger folks in the GTA and the greater Vancouver region, because they all have a dream, quite rightly, of home ownership,” mentioned Kenney.


“That dream is alive and well in Alberta.”  


According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the common residence value in Alberta was about $424,000 in August. In comparability, common residence costs in Ontario and British Columbia had been $830,000 and $911,000 respectively. 


In Toronto and Vancouver, costs are effectively above the provincial averages.


The pitch comes as Ontario experiences the largest exodus of residents in a long time. According to Statistics Canada, practically 50,000 individuals left the province in the second quarter of this yr.  


Meanwhile, Alberta noticed an inflow of individuals coming into the province, with greater than 37,000 new residents.


University of Waterloo economics professor Mikal Skuterud says motion between provinces is good if it means employees are going to the place they’re wanted the most.  


“We need competition,” Skuterud mentioned, including that employers needs to be competing for expertise throughout the nation, not simply in the native communities the place they’re primarily based.


“We need employees to notice the place jobs are plentiful [and] the place wages are rising.”


Mike Moffatt, an assistant professor at Western University’s Ivey Business School, mentioned with younger individuals progressively involved about housing affordability, “it’s really smart for Alberta to sort of tout the benefits of living there.” 


Moffatt says though Alberta’s newest marketing campaign could be extra aggressive in its tone, different areas in Ontario have made comparable pitches to Toronto residents. 


As extra Torontonians migrated out of the metropolis over the years and into areas like Kitchener-Waterloo and St. Catharines, costs had been pushed up in these cities, he mentioned. 


“With the increase of work-from-home, there’s the potential for that to be turned into a Canadian-wide phenomenon,” Moffatt mentioned.  


That phenomenon has already performed out in the Maritimes as Ontarians headed out East throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, choosing larger houses at cheaper costs. 


The inflow of Ontarians pushed up residence costs dramatically in traditionally cheap New Brunswick. Last yr, costs went up by greater than 30 per cent in the province. 


As Canadians proceed the seek for reasonably priced housing, Moffatt says native communities can have to be conscious of inhabitants progress and ensure they’ve the housing to accommodate it. 


Back in Edmonton, Shah says the transfer to Alberta will not enchantment to everybody. Torontonians have to forgo residing in the most populous metropolis in Canada and Vancouverites would bid farewell to delicate climate.  


“If you like fast life and crowded places, Toronto is better than Alberta, obviously,” she mentioned.   


However, Moffatt mentioned if the message lands with even a small fraction of individuals, it may imply much more new employees for Alberta. 


“There’s in all probability sufficient individuals on the market who’re like, ‘You know what, I can stand an Edmonton winter if it means I can truly personal a house.'”


This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Oct. 12, 2022.

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