Minister Jason Kenney Visits Swift Current
Jason Kenney (second from right) tours the Saskatchewan Abilities Council with Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson, Regional Director Janet Dillabaugh, and Operations Manager Dale Lowe (Photo: Anita Hindley)
A federal cabinet minister made a stop in Swift Current this weekend.
Jason Kenney, the Minister of Employment and Cultural Development and Minister of Multiculturalism was in the city on Saturday for a roundtable discussion with local business leaders, and a tour of REM Enterprises and the Saskatchewan Abilities Council.
“I remember visiting Saskatchewan many times in previous years when the economy was lacklustre and young people were leaving and storefronts were vacant, but seeing the economy now is really exciting,” he said. “All of the employers, farmers and business people with whom I met, said their number one challenge was a shortage of people, which is a good problem to have. I’m really excited to see the dynamism of the area now.”
From his tours, Kenney noted that REM did a good job in integrating newcomers to the local workforce, saying they brought in 20 Filipino families and 50 workers with many staying in the area, and the Abilities Centre in their education and training of people with disabilities.
“To see what the Abilities Council is doing to ‘marry’ those two issues of getting people with disabilities into the workforce and productively contributing, it’s frankly just a beautiful thing to see and it’s the best Saskatchewan spirit,” Kenney said. “I think they are national leaders in what they’re doing in that work.”
Kenney says the shortage of labour, especially in trades, is a concern he’s heard all across western Canada, and one that he heard from the people he talked with Saturday is that many tradespeople looking for work don’t necessarily look at rural Saskatchewan, because they don’t think they will have the quality of life they want when they come here.
“You’ve got a strong economy, you’ve got the best year in agriculture on record, four straight years of really strong results in the farm sector, livestock prices are up, commodity prices are up, oil and gas are coming on stream with horizontal drilling, gas fracking and with the Bakken, and what I’m hearing from every single employer is skill and labour shortages is their challenge,” he said. “This is kind of hard to translate for the rest of the country, because down east, people see a lot of unemployed Canadians. My message to them is if you’d like to pursue different opportunities across the entire skill spectrum, think about southern Saskatchewan. For example, whether you’re a physician, come into rural Saskatchewan, or a general farm labourer, there’s good work to be had in a warm and welcoming community.”
Kenny is also working to promote greater labour mobility mobility within Canada, and removing the barriers in professional and licensing bodies in trades, and recognizing the credentials of immigrant professionals.
Anderson and Kenney visit REM Enterprises to tour the facility with General Manager Richelle Titemore
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