A new batch of unemployment numbers for Alberta have come out, and although there’s enough confusion in the numbers for hardcore NDP supporters to find some semblance of solace, the picture they paint is not pretty. They also raise some very unsettling questions about how Lori Sigurdson, the NDP’s Minister of Innovation, Advanced Education and Jobs spent her summer.
Let’s flash back to August, when the Wildrose Alliance raised concerns that Sigurdson was spending her time campaigning for the NDP in the federal election, and not even in Alberta. She was campaigning on behalf of the NDP in Okanagan-Shuswap. The NDP eventually defended her actions by noting that she was doing so on per own vacation time, not while in BC on government business. Apparently this was supposed to be a relief.
Let’s take a look at what went on in Alberta while the Jobs Minister was taking her vacation.
Effectively, the province’s economy spun its wheels briefly before shedding more jobs in September. By October, an additional 11,000 jobs had been lost, this an addition to 53,000 jobs lost over the past year according to Statistic Canada’s Survey of Employment Payroll and Hours. 35,000 of them were in the energy sector alone. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers announced that in August, while the Jobs Minister was still having her holiday.
Since then the NDP has stepped forward with at least one job-creating measure in the budget released in October. They announced the return of the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP), which overall is a positive move. It’s certainly good for students, and gives them an opportunity to gain work experience in order to build a career. This is obviously a good thing. However, announcing a summer work program in October was a little… odd. It was almost as if the Minister’s summer vacation, and campaigning for the federal NDP, was the priority.
Alberta’s job market needs help, badly. The most recent job numbers should be driving that hope for this government, but instead they’re trying to score political points off of maternity leave. Premier Rachel Notley insists that Stephanie MacLean won’t lose any pay while she’s on maternity leave, which is fine. She shouldn’t.
But how about all the Albertans who have lost, and are continuing to lose, their jobs? Perhaps Notley and Lori Sigurdson could find it in themselves at some point in the near future to start actually working on this subject. Any time before their next vacation would be nice.