As Alberta woos skilled workers, economists say the competition is healthy


When Zeel Shah’s associate left Toronto for a job in Edmonton in 2018, the younger couple needed to determine which metropolis supplied 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 house possession targets have been extra achievable out West.

“We wished to finally calm down,” she mentioned. “As a primary home, we did not need to spend like a 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 house — a townhouse — collectively in Edmonton.

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

Alberta is at present vying to draw extra younger folks like Shah and Cheema, and economists say it is a good factor for provinces to compete for staff.

The dream of house possession

With labour shortages prevalent throughout the nation, the western province is concentrating on residents of Canada’s most costly cities in a marketing campaign to draw staff, making an affordability pitch it is hoping can be too exhausting to withstand.

“What did the Albertan say to the Torontonian? You’re employed,” reads considered one of Alberta’s advertisements in a downtown Toronto subway station.

“Find belongings you’d by no means count on. Like an reasonably priced home,” reads one other.

The second section 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 on to the metropolis’s younger folks.

“I need to make a particular shout-out to youthful people in the GTA and the better Vancouver area, as a result of all of them have a dream, fairly rightly, of house possession,” mentioned Kenney.

“That dream is alive and effectively in Alberta.”

Alberta has launched a marketing campaign to carry Vancouver staff to the province, promising reasonably priced dwelling and shorter commutes. (Frederic Demers/CBC News Graphics)

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the common house worth in Alberta was about $424,000 in August. In comparability, common house costs in Ontario and British Columbia have 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 many years. According to Statistics Canada, almost 50,000 folks 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 staff are going to the place they’re wanted the most.

“We want 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 staff to comprehend 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 folks more and more involved about housing affordability, “it is actually good for Alberta to type of tout the advantages of dwelling there.”

Moffatt says though Alberta’s newest marketing campaign may 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 have been pushed up in these cities, he mentioned.

“With the improve of work-from-home, there’s the potential for that to be was 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 greater houses at cheaper costs.

The inflow of Ontarians pushed up house 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 must 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 attraction to everybody. Torontonians must forgo dwelling in the most populous metropolis in Canada and Vancouverites would bid farewell to delicate climate.

“If you want quick life and crowded locations, Toronto is higher than Alberta, clearly,” she mentioned.

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

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


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