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Alberta premier slams GTA home prices, cost of living in campaign to draw workers west

Toronto subway users may have found their station wrapped in photos of the Rocky Mountains Wednesday morning, the latest ploy by the Alberta government to entice Ontarians to its own province. 

Premier Jason Kenney and two MLAs set up a news conference at a subway station at Yonge and Dundas in Toronto to unveil the next phase of a campaign called "Alberta is Calling." 

"We have become victims of our own success," said Highwood MLA R.J. Sigurdson, touting the Alberta economy. "We have more jobs than we have qualified people to fill them. In fact, industry leaders tell us there are over 100,000 job openings right now in our province."

Kenney referenced a recent survey that found one in four Canadian millennials had given up the dream of owning a home. Those in Ontario were least able to imagine becoming homeowners. 

According to Kenney, a detached home on average costs $1.2 million in the Greater Toronto Area, compared to $425,000 in Calgary and $360,000 in Edmonton. 

"That dream is alive and well in Alberta," he commented. 

In August, the Alberta government launched the campaign to bait skilled workers from Toronto and Vancouver – especially in the health-care sector, but also in trades and technology – with lower taxes, home prices, and costs of living. 

This second phase will also include a newspaper wrap and billboards in Vancouver. 

For months, Alberta's health-care system has struggled to cover absences due to illness, vacation and leave. Emergency and obstetric departments in smaller communities have been particularly affected. On Wednesday, 32 sites were offering limited services, according to Alberta Health Services

But Kenney did not draw special attention to the shortage of health-care workers on Wednesday, saying instead people were needed "right across the skill spectrum." 

He also denied that an ongoing scandal – involving one of his ministers publicly thanking "freedom convoy" participants for protesting Canada's COVID-19 vaccine border requirements – would detract from Alberta's allure. 

"I really don't think people are going to make life decisions based on whether they agree or disagree with one particular person in a different province," Kenney said of the criticism of his labour and immigration minister's comments. 

"I actually think for a lot of Canadians who believed that governments went too far and too quickly in restricting people's lives, Alberta has been a magnet for a lot of people who value freedom." Top Stories

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