When it comes to employment, new figures from Statistics Canada show that Alberta has fallen further and faster over the past six months than any other province.
Between October 2008 and March 2009, Alberta lost more than 73,000 full-time jobs. This was partially offset by an increase in part-time employment (22,000 jobs) - but left Alberta with a net loss of 51,400 jobs over the period.
Between March 2008 and March 2009, the number of unemployed people in Alberta has jumped by 72 per cent - the highest increase in the country.
During the same period, the number of unemployed in Ontario increased by 36 per cent and in B.C. the number jumped 69 per cent. By contrast, the number of unemployed in Manitoba increased by 17.5 per cent and in Saskatchewan the figure moved up by only 15 per cent.
Alberta's unemployment rate (5.8 per cent) is still substantially lower than the national average (8 per cent) but higher than Saskatchewan (4.7) and Manitoba (5.1).
The Alberta Federation of Labour believes that both the provincial and federal governments can and should be doing more to keep Albertans working and help those who have lost their jobs.
In particular, the AFL sees the Alberta government's recent budget as a missed opportunity. The budget promises to keep operational and infrastructure spending at roughly the same levels as last year.
"Albertans - especially those working in the construction, manufacturing and energy sectors - are having a hard time staying afloat," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. "The good news is that the government hasn't thrown them an anvil as Ralph Klein did during the last recession. But they haven't thrown them a life preserver either."
McGowan says that Alberta continues to have the fiscal capacity to do much more to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
He also says the Stelmach and Harper governments need to be more transparent about where federal stimulus money will be spent. And he says changes desperately need to be made to the Employment Insurance system because only 1 in 3 unemployed Albertans are currently entitled to receive benefits.
"In January of this year, there were 93,500 unemployed people in Alberta - but only 29,000 of them qualified for benefits," says McGowan. "With the unemployment rate in Alberta climbing rapidly, we simply can't afford to have a system that leaves two-thirds of unemployed Albertans out in the cold."
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL President office: (780) 483-3021 cell: (780) 218-9888