Challenging times lay ahead for Alberta’s economy, with the thousands of temporary foreign workers brought to the province to work in the oil industry over the past decade now being forced to leave along with many others who came to work as fast food servers, nannies and care workers.
As proof of how strong Alberta’s economy has been, workers in the province lay claim to not only working the longest hours in Canada, but also earning the highest average annual household income in the country
It goes without saying that TFWs have been critical to Alberta’s economic boom. The demands of Alberta’s 24/7 economy have led to soaring traffic at the province’s drive-thrus and fast food outlets, most of which are heavily dependent on temporary foreign workers.
Additionally, the high number of households where both parents are employed in the oil industry has led to a high demand for domestic help, which again is mostly provided by TFWs.
In 2012, there were 68,000 TFWs employed in Alberta’s booming economy, 20 per cent of the total number of TFWs in Canada.
But last year, the federal government announced new rules to make it more difficult for TFWs to stay in Canada on a long-term basis, leading employers in the province to fear the worst.
Businesses in the key oil town of Fort McMurray are bracing for the full impact of the changes to take effect, with many predicting they will have to reduce hours and even close on certain days of the week.
In Alberta as well as in the rest of Canada, the changes to the TFW program are being seen as a step in the wrong direction.
If you are thinking of an immigration project to Alberta (via a work permit or Canadian permanent residence) it is noteworthy that while there are plenty of employment opportunities, there is also a lot of personal household debt.
A report from Bank of Montreal puts average household debt in the western Canadian province at 124,800 Canadian dollars ($114,000) in 2014, a sharp increase from last year’s C$89,026.
That 40% rise far exceeds the 5.7% increase across Canada, which took the national average household debt level to C$76,100 in 2014, the report says. The report is based on survey of 1,002 Canadians conducted for BMO in late June and early July by research firm Pollara.
BMO says the dramatically higher household debt in Alberta may partially reflect the rapid escalation of housing prices in that province, whose economy continues to boom due to its vigorous energy sector. Albertans carry nearly twice the average household debt than households in Ontario, which the BMO report puts at C$67,507.
Ontario and seven other provinces all fell below the national average. Only British Columbia, exceeded the national average, with debt at C$99,900. The report indicated 43% of Canadians hold mortgage debt, up 13% from a year ago. The rising share of households with a mortgage is driven partly by the active participation of first-time buyers, mainly younger Canadians, BMO said.
More than half of all households are carrying a credit-card balance, although that total declined to 52% from 56% in 2013. BMO said student loans have remained stable, with 15% of households reporting that type of debt.
Source: Wall Street Journal