The federal government wants immigrants to solve Alberta’s labour crunch instead of having Canadians move across the nation to the oil-rich province, says Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn.

With Alberta suffering mass staff shortages in multiple industries — from the trades to medicine — immigrants will need to become a larger part of the solution, he said yesterday after a luncheon meeting with the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

Seeing Canadians pack their bags and head cross-country for Alberta’s opportunities drains other provinces, Blackburn said, and is only beneficial for younger generations.

“Who is going to pay the taxes if we empty regions?” he said. “We know that some would like to come (to Alberta) and that’s fine … But at the same time we know that these (foreign) working permits are a good opportunity for the labour force.”

He added that many immigrants express interest in permanently residing here, and the government believes keeping them here will be instrumental to Canada’s success.

Labour issues among all provinces and territories will be discussed further at an upcoming conference, he said.

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