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Alberta Jobs Minister Brian Jean stands with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith after being sworn into cabinet in Edmonton on Oct. 24, 2022. The Alberta government has started a second campaign aimed at attracting skilled workers from Ontario and Atlantic Canada.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

The Alberta government is expanding its Alberta Is Calling advertising campaign to attract workers from Ontario and Atlantic Canada to fill tens of thousands of job vacancies across the province.

Brian Jean, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development, announced on Monday that the second iteration of the attention-grabbing campaign is aimed at enticing workers to high-demand sectors, such as skilled trades, health care, hospitality and technology. The entire campaign comes with a $5-million price tag.

The second campaign will build from the successes of the first, said Mr. Jean, with the signature cheeky, pointed style that grabbed the attention of many in Vancouver and Toronto last year.

But this round will target Canadians living in smaller parts of Ontario, such as Hamilton, London and North Bay, in addition to major cities in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

“We’re targeting places where people need jobs and they’re looking for a different quality of life and also they have expensive lives,” said Mr. Jean, during a news conference in the small mountain town of Canmore.

“They know they can get a job in Toronto, but can they live in Toronto? That’s the question and most people recognize they can’t and they can instead come here to Alberta.”

In the first campaign, which launched last August under former premier Jason Kenney, signs were plastered in busy pedestrian areas, two of which read: “Find things you’d never expect. Like an affordable house,” and, “What did the Albertan say to the Torontonian? You’re hired.” There were also radio and television commercials.

While there is no clear link, Mr. Jean tied the spike in migration to Alberta in the third quarter last year to the Alberta Is Calling campaign, which ran from Aug. 15 to Oct. 17.

Nearly 33,000 people from other areas of Canada moved to Alberta in the quarter while 14,000 or so left, making the net gain just above 19,000, according to Statistics Canada. In the previous quarter, there was an increase of about 10,000 people.

Data from Statistics Canada also show there were more than 100,000 job vacancies in Alberta in the third quarter. Ontario had the greatest number of openings that period totalling about 372,000.

Additionally, this data set shows the average hourly wage offered in Alberta was $24.80, which is above the national average but just shy of British Columbia’s $25.45 – the highest among the provinces.

Mr. Jean said the campaign will highlight the province’s economic advantages, low taxes and high earnings. It will also spotlight Alberta’s world-famous mountains and parks and the livability of its cities. It will run until April 9 and includes radio, audio streaming, billboards, online displays, social media and search-engine marketing.

One mock-up for the campaign reads: “It’s mountain time somewhere.” And another: “No PST. No payroll tax. No health care premium. Just more money in your pocket.”

Jennifer Henshaw, regional vice-president with Restaurants Canada, said during the Monday press conference that the restaurant sector was hard hit coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said employment is about 12 per cent below prepandemic levels, compared to 6 per cent in other industries.

“Many restaurants have had to pivot, reduce hours and are only operating at around 80 per cent of their prepandemic capacity due to labour shortages. The most recent Statistics Canada data shows that there’s around 18,000 vacancies in Alberta’s restaurant sector for vital roles like front-of-house managers, chefs and prep cooks,” she said.

“That’s why Restaurants Canada is pleased to support the Alberta government’s relaunched Alberta’s calling campaign. It will be a key driver to help the industry attract and retain new and valued employees to the region.”

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