Ms McPherson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Unemployed Albertans are out of work 50 per cent longer now than they were two years ago. The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy recently cautioned that longer unemployment means increased difficulty in finding re-employment. I know I’ve spoken to a number of my constituents, previously in professional careers, who cannot find a job after three or four years. People looking for jobs are significantly worse off today than they were two years ago. What specifically is the government doing to address this critical issue?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Finance.

Mr. Ceci: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Of course, the drop in the price of oil has caused the worst collapse and recession in Alberta’s recent history, for two generations. It’s worse and it’s been longer than the collapse in 2008. We know that this is really hard on all Alberta families, of course. That’s why we know that there’s much more work to do, and we are doing that work so that all Albertans feel the economic recovery.

We’re putting jobs and economic diversification first, investing in training programs across our economy so that Albertans have greater hands-on experience with $10 million through the integrated training program. I’m sure I’ll address more things later.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Ms McPherson: There were three times the number of men aged 15 to 24 looking for work for six months in Alberta in 2017 as there were women. Experienced professionals, engineers, geologists, and systems analysts are having trouble finding work bagging groceries or working in security. Employers are turning them away because they are overqualified. When does the government believe that these people will have the chance to rejoin the workforce?

Mr. Ceci: Certainly, I hope that all Albertans have a great chance to rejoin the workforce and for prosperity for their families. In addition, we’re creating workforce placements so that Albertans can build the connections with employers, Mr. Speaker. There are 1,300 of those workforce partnership placements. We know there’s more work to be done, and we won’t stop until all Albertans feel this economic recovery. In addition, we’re investing in building much-needed infrastructure, that has helped put companies and Albertans back to work, and we’re going to continue to see that bill go forward.

Ms McPherson: The number of women in their peak earning years looking for work for a year or more has almost doubled in the last two years. We know that different groups experience unemployment and underemployment differently. Indigenous populations usually see a decrease in employment rates after a downturn. We need to tailor supports so that people can access help in an appropriate way. What specific measures has the government implemented to recognize the differences in unemployed groups?

Mr. Ceci: Mr. Speaker, perhaps this is a better question for other ministers. I know that they are supportive and I’ve been supportive of making sure there’s increased monies there for social assistance caseloads when we need them and people are unsuccessful in getting employment. We, of course, pushed Ottawa in the past around EI benefits and extending those to Albertans who were suffering through the downturn. We’re going to continue working on the jobs front, supporting diversification and getting more Albertans back to work.

 


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