The province plans to create 2,000 jobs in key ag sectors
By Diego Flammini
Jason Kenney’s government is looking to the ag sector to help support the provincial economy.
As part of Finance Minister Travis Toews’s 2020 budget, “A Plan for Jobs and the Economy,” the provincial government outlined some of the ag-related measures it’s taking to bring jobs to Alberta.
The section “a Blueprint for Jobs seeks to attract $1.4 billion in investment to grow agriculture and food exports over the next four years,” Toews said during his budget speech. “This will create 2,000 jobs and grow the sector by 8 per cent per year.”
Those jobs will be primarily in the canola processing, pork, plant protein, greenhouse, food processing, malt and agri-technology sectors, the budget document states.
It also outlines some changes to the ministry of agriculture and forestry.
Ministry spending, for example, is estimated to be $833 million in 2020-21, down from $879 million in the 2019-20 budget.
The government plans on decreased budgets in 2021-22 ($830 million) and 2022-23 ($828 million), too.
The UCP’s fiscal plan maintains funding for farmer-led ag research at $37 million and is adding an additional $15 million over three years to fight mountain pine beetle.
A reduction in overall expenses will necessitate layoffs within the ag ministry.
The government is cutting an estimated 277 jobs in the department, bringing total staff down to 1,373.
Those layoffs were carefully considered, said Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen.
“There was a lot of growth in the department and we weren’t actually seeing any service standards increasing,” he told Global News. “So, we identified those areas within the department that we could deliver the same service standard, but do it with less.”
Farms.com has reached out to Minister Dreeshen and Alberta farm groups for comment.
Finance Minister Travis Toews