Creating jobs is a major focus for Alberta, Devin Dreeshen said
By Diego Flammini
Alberta’s provincial government is focused on attracting investment and creating jobs.
That’s one of the messages Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen conveyed to Farms.com during an interview Thursday about the province’s second budget under Premier Jason Kenney.
“This is a jobs and economic growth budget,” Dreeshen said. “We have a really high-level goal within the department of trying to attract $1.4 billion of new agriculture value-added investment to the province of Alberta. We’ve estimated that 2,000 net new jobs will come from that investment.”
The jobs would also contribute to rural revitalization, he said.
Employment opportunities will be primarily in the canola processing, pork, plant protein, greenhouse, food processing, malt and agri-technology sectors, the budget document states.
Government will study all sectors within the agricultural industry to determine where the most job opportunities are, Dreeshen said.
“We have an investment team within our department to identify … what type of investment could actually come to the province and expand in all the different commodity areas,” he said.
Alberta’s ag ministry is reducing its own spending.
The department will be allotted $833 million in 2020-21, down from $879 million in the 2019-20 budget.
Taking a different approach to operating provincial ministries and making necessary changes will help ensure Alberta is fiscally responsible, Dreeshen said.
“We’re still spending $833 million, and we think the efficiencies we found in last year’s budget was kind of a transformational view of how we can run the department like a business,” he said. “In so many ways we are service providers to farmers and ranchers and on the forestry wide as well, so we wanted to figure out how we could actually streamline our services going out.”
Despite some spending cuts, Alberta is committed to funding farmer-led research.
The United Conservative Party’s fiscal plan maintains $37 million in funding for the research in 2020-21 and through years three and four of its mandate, Dreeshen said.
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen