Alberta unveils $370M jobs recovery plan

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Jason Kenney unveils a $370-million jobs program for the province, funded by Alberta and Ottawa.  (CBC - image credit)
Jason Kenney unveils a $370-million jobs program for the province, funded by Alberta and Ottawa. (CBC - image credit)

Alberta plans to spend up to $370 million in an effort to get more people working in a province hard hit by the pandemic and a prolonged downturn in oil and gas.

Premier Jason Kenney announced the Alberta Jobs Now program on Wednesday, touting it as the largest jobs training program in the history of the province.

The government says it will put more than 22,000 Albertans back to work by providing grants to companies and not-for-profits that hire unemployed or underemployed workers.

"This is a long-term investment in working Albertans as we recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and recession," said Kenney

Funding for the program is split evenly between the province and the federal government, through Ottawa's Workforce Development Agreement.

Details of grant

Employers will be able to apply for grants that cover 25 per cent of an employee's salary for a 52-week period, up to a maximum of $25,000 per employee. Those who hire persons with disabilities will receive a grant that is 1.5 times higher.

The grant can cover salary or training costs, according to the province, and applications must be submitted within the first 30 days of hiring a new employee.

Employers will be paid a first instalment after 12 weeks of employment and a final payment after 52 weeks.

"If this program succeeds in helping get Albertans back to work, we're prepared to extend the program into the new fiscal year, next year, to continue to ensure that our economic recovery moves forward," said Kenney.

Alberta's unemployment rate in April was 9.0 per cent, according to Statistics Canada, down from a high last year of 15.8 per cent.

Only Newfoundland and Labrador has a higher unemployment rate among the provinces. Alberta is tied with Ontario.

Like the rest of the country, the Alberta economy has struggled through the pandemic. But unlike the rest of Canada, it went into the global crisis already suffering from a prolonged downturn in oil and gas.

Applications for the new grants open on May 20 and will be accepted until Aug. 31. A second application period will run between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31.

Employers can apply for up to 20 new hires during each application period.

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