Union leaders urge federal gov’t to seize “the opportunity of the century” to create jobs in Alberta

Joint letter by Alberta union leaders says federal budget should be Canada’s definitive response to massive American investment bill

Six Alberta labour leaders are calling for the Canadian government to make the upcoming federal budget a definitive response to the American Inflation Reduction Act. Igor Kyryliuk photo via Unsplash.

EDMONTON – A group of six Alberta union leaders representing workers in energy, construction and manufacturing are urging federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to help Alberta “seize the opportunity of the century” to attract investment and create jobs.

These leaders are calling for the Canadian government to make the upcoming federal budget a definitive response to the American Inflation Reduction Act, which is funding aggressive programs in the United States to, among other goals, invest in domestic energy production and promote clean energy.

“Our American allies have responded to this shift by earmarking $738 billion to support an industrial policy that will pivot the American economy and position American workers for increased prosperity in a world that’s changing fast,” the six write in a letter to Minister Freeland.

In the letter, Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan and five other Alberta union leaders, ask Minister Freeland “to match the scale, scope and ambition of the American IRA.” The six leaders argue that if the feds ignore the challenge, “we’re worried that our country and our citizens will be left behind.”

McGowan and the other union leaders argue that the world is experiencing the biggest economic paradigm shift since the Industrial Revolution.   They add this transition “represents the opportunity of the century to attract investment and create jobs.”

In the letter, the union leaders say that Alberta has “certain politically-motivated groups and individuals in our province” who are wrong.  According to the correspondence, these groups share a fearful message with Albertans, and argue that preparing for change will somehow hurt our economy or destroy our oil and gas industry.

“We are convinced that if the federal and Alberta governments embrace the kind of industrial-policy approach being advocated by both the Alberta labour movement and the Alberta business community, the issue won’t be job losses; instead, the real problem will be finding, training and mobilizing enough workers to get all of the work done.”

The labour leaders say that their biggest fear of not adopting a strong industrial policy is “that our province and our country will miss out on the historic and unprecedented opportunities for job creation and broadly-shared prosperity that are inherent in the unfolding global energy transition.”

The letter concludes by urging Minister Freeland to ignore the actors on Alberta’s political stage “who are trying to spread fear, rather than nurture hope and confidence.”

“That shouldn’t stop you and your cabinet colleagues from proceeding with the federal portion of a Lougheed and IRA-style industrial policy. Obviously, such a policy will not be able to live up to its full potential without the participation of the Alberta government. But by putting serious money on the table – with strings attached to ensure that the desired investments are good for both Alberta workers and Alberta communities – you will be showing good faith and commitment. That will make it easier (and more likely) for the Alberta government, led by whoever wins the upcoming election, to respond in kind.”

The letter was signed by Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta Federation of Labour; Keith Stevenson, Business Manager/FST Ironworkers Local 720; Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director Unifor; Scott Lunny Director, District 3 United Steel Workers; Chris Flett Business Manager, IUOE Local 955; and Michael A. Reinhart Business Manager/ Financial Secretary, IBEW Local 424.




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