Alberta job losses will be tackled by Trudeau government: Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk

Federal Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk says the Liberal government is committed to action on job losses in Alberta but urges those in the oil and gas industry: 'You are the very best in this sector: look for other opportunities.'

'I've listened and heard from Albertans about the labour market challenges they are up against'

Federal Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk, flanked by Liberal MPs Darshan Kang and Kent Hehr in Calgary, says her government will push ahead with expanding the Youth Employment Strategy and make improvements to the EI system. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Federal Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk says the Liberal government is committed to taking action to address job losses in Alberta.

She was in Calgary Monday along with Kent Hehr and Darshan Kang — the city's Liberal MPs — meeting with business and municipal leaders.

Mihychuk says the downturn in the province is expected to last into 2019, and expects to see a quarter of the office towers in downtown Calgary empty. She says infrastructure investment will be part of strategy to address Alberta's struggling economy.

"Did I come with a wallet full of cash? No," Mihychuk said at the news conference.

But she also had a message for Albertans in the oilpatch.

"You are the very best in this sector: look for other opportunities," said Mihychuk. "I know many people come to Alberta to start their lives. This is one of the targeted provinces in Canada. We need to flexible. We're in tough times right now, but ... our energy sector will come back." 

Ambrose slams Trudeau's economic policies

It comes as Conservative Party Leader Rona Ambrose urged ‎Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to turn his focus to the dire economic situation in Alberta.

"Alberta has been and can remain a key economic driver for the whole country, but the province is facing real challenges. Unfortunately, the Trudeau Liberals have no economic plan to respond to the collapse of oil, other than tax and spend policies that have failed Canada time and again," said Ambrose in a release. 

Hehr shot back at the afternoon news conference, saying "her government had 10 years to do something about that," but the Trudeau government is also committed to working on oilpatch access to new markets.

Ambrose also made a call for Alberta food bank donations following a spike in demand.

"During the Christmas season, let's not forget to lend a helping hand to those who need it, no matter where they live," said Ambrose. "A cash donation to a food bank in Alberta would mean a great deal this year, no matter which part of Canada it comes from."

Listening but no defined plan

In a release, the minister says she sympathizes deeply with those Albertans who are facing tough times.

"I've listened and heard from Albertans about the labour market challenges they are up against," said Mihychuk.

"I am committed to working with the province and employers to help Albertans get the skills they need for good quality jobs and to strengthen training. In today's changing economy, Canadians need more opportunities to improve their skills and upgrade their credentials."

She says her government will push ahead with expanding the Youth Employment Strategy and make improvements to the employment insurance (EI) system.

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