PRESS RELEASE: Union leaders urge feds to seize “the opportunity of the century” to create jobs in Alberta

Foreground: Back view of a worker wearing a hi-visibility orange and reflective yellow vest and a white hard hat. Background: Multiple workers wearing blue hard hats and hi-visibility vests moving worksite materials around a truck on a building construction site.

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

EDMONTON – In a strongly worded letter sent today, a group of Alberta union leaders representing workers in energy, construction and manufacturing urged federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to help Alberta “seize the opportunity of the century” to attract investment and create jobs.

The letter from Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan and five other Alberta union leaders asked Freeland to make the upcoming federal budget “a definitive response to the American Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).”

“For the sake of the workers we represent, we urge you to match the scale, scope and ambition of the American IRA. If we don’t, we’re worried that our country and our citizens will be left behind.”

McGowan and the other union leaders said it’s clear “the world is in the early stages of the biggest economic paradigm shift since the Industrial Revolution, which represents the opportunity of the century to attract investment and create jobs.”

The letter goes on to say that “certain politically-motivated groups and individuals in our province” are wrong when they say Albertans should be fearful of the future – or 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 continued by saying “our biggest fear is NOT job loss, but rather 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 Freeland to ignore those “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.”

McGowan will be in Ottawa today, Tuesday and Wednesday, meeting with Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers on these issues and others. Interviews with Alberta journalists can be arranged by phone or Zoom. McGowan is available to meet Ottawa-based journalists in person during this time.

The full text of the letter can be found in the backgrounder linked below.


John Ashton
Director of Communications, AFL