Next phase of Alberta's $370M jobs grant program set to open

·3 min read
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced details of the second phase of his government's Alberta Jobs Now program on Tuesday.  (CBC - image credit)
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced details of the second phase of his government's Alberta Jobs Now program on Tuesday. (CBC - image credit)

Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday the launch of the second phase of his government's $370-million jobs stimulus package, which he says has so far helped more than 14,000 Albertans find new jobs.

The Alberta Jobs Now program allows employers to apply for a grant that covers 25 per cent of a new employee's salary for a 52-week period up to a maximum of $25,000 per employee.

"Together with the other $400 million that we are investing in jobs training and skills development, this represents by far the largest investment in Alberta history by government in job training and skills development," said Kenney at a media event in downtown Calgary at Hudsons Pub, which is taking part in the program.

General manager Brent Nalder said the program has helped make it affordable to bring in fresh new talent.

"This has given Hudsons the ability to more easily hire inexperienced staff and give them the proper training needed to execute great guest experience," he said.

Kenney said the first round of the program, launched in May, resulted in about 2,700 applications being approved, which led to about 14,000 new jobs.

"We had to close the application intake because, in fact, demand was so overwhelming," he said.

"We wanted to make sure that there's enough money in the pot for the planned two-year rollout of this program."

Applications to the second phase of the program will be accepted starting Nov. 10. They will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds are allocated for this intake, the province says.

A third application intake period will happen in 2022.

Kenney said about 22 per cent of the first tranche of funds went to businesses in the accommodation and hospitality sector. Applications from the construction industry accounted for 11 per cent; the professional, technical and scientific sector got 8.2 per cent; manufacturing firms received eight per cent; and retail businesses took 7.5 per cent of the grants.

"I think this reflects the fact that this industry, the hospitality industry, was hit hardest," he said.

"This is an industry that really needs to bring in a lot of new workers and train them up. And I think that's why we see the greatest demand in the hospitality sector."

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

Employers who hire applicants with disabilities qualify for a grant 1.5 times higher than the amount they would receive for other new employees. The grant can be used to cover salary or training costs.

The province says it has made several changes to the program in an effort to allow more people to benefit from it.

The minimum number of hours employees must work under the program has been reduced from 30 to 15 hours per week. And employers are now allowed to fill available positions with employed Albertans if there is a business need.

The program is also now open to businesses and non-profits that have been incorporated or registered for less than a year.

The NDP's critic for labour, Christina Gray, said in a release the UCP should have made that the policy from the start.

"While I'm encouraged to see Jason Kenney has heeded our advice to include new businesses in this second tranche, if the UCP had done this correctly from the beginning, more businesses may have opened their doors sooner knowing they had access to these supports," she said.

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