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Alberta seeks higher immigration allotment to address workforce shortage, Ukrainian evacuees

Alberta is asking the federal government to increase the number of allocations for its provincial nominee program which allows workers to become permanent citizens.

Alberta’s allotment for 2024 is 9,750, down from the 10,140 originally allotted by the federal government, according to Premier Danielle Smith.

“I am very concerned with this decision given the adverse impacts it would have on our province‚Äôs economy and ability to help Ukrainian evacuees find permanent jobs and futures in Alberta,” Smith wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“In February 2024 employment rose to 2.5 million, up 17,400 month-over-month, which is 4.1 per cent increase year-over-year. Full-time jobs also jumped to 2,070,699.”

Alberta has had over 57,000 Ukrainian refugees come to the province since the Russian invasion in 2022.

“Our growing economy is creating a labor shortage in some of our critical industries, including construction technology, health care and education,” Smith said. “This shortage hinders our ability to grow and reach our full economic potential, something that all of Canada has relied on for years.

“With so many Ukrainian evacuees arriving right at a time when we have a labor shortage, Ottawa limiting our ability to offer permanent residency doesn’t make much sense.”

In the letter to the Prime Minister, Smith requested that Alberta receive an allotment of 20,000 for the provincial nomination program each year in 2024, 2025 and 2026, effective immediately.

Smith also requested 10,000 allotments specifically for Ukrainian evacuees.

“Even though we’re only 12 per cent of the population, we are getting 23 per cent of the Ukrainian evacuees who are seeking refuge in our country,” Smith said. “That’s the reason why we want to have a special program that allows for us to settle them.”

Upwards of 93 per cent of Ukrainians that have come to Alberta are expected to stay and apply for permanent residency, Smith adds in the letter.

“We want what’s best for Alberta. We want to welcome newcomers, including Ukrainians who have the skill sets that we need to keep our economy moving and growing,” Smith said.

Supports for Ukrainian newcomers in Alberta include emergency accommodations for up to 14 days when they arrive, a drivers’ license exchange program and language and employment support.

“We’re also actively working to extend access to key services such as health care and emergency financial supports past April 30 of this year,” Smith said.

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