Source: Facebook

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she wants more control over immigration after the federal government declined to increase the number of skilled workers awarded to the province. 

Smith asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a letter to re-evaluate his government’s decision to limit allocations for Alberta’s provincial nominee program, saying the province’s population growth is the highest seen in four decades – so it needs more workers. 

Ottawa should respect Section 95 of the Constitution Act and let Alberta determine the number of skilled workers let into the province, Smith said. 

“We continue to experience labour shortages that could be resolved by welcoming skilled workers from around the world, including evacuees from Ukraine, many of whom have the exact skills that our job market most needs,” Smith said in a statement.

“Let us welcome the skilled individuals we need into our province on our terms.”

Section 95 of the Constitution relates to federal and provincial legislative jurisdiction over agriculture and immigration. The federal government’s provincial nominee program chooses which skilled applicants will be admitted into a given province or territory. 

Ottawa told the province last week it would receive 9,750 skilled workers. That’s the same number Alberta was given in 2023, down from the 10,140 the feds originally promised this year. 

John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, said it was fair for Smith to invoke the Constitution Act because Section 95 requires provincial input on immigration. 

“It’s good and relevant to remind the federal government,” he told True North. 

Carpay said Ottawa is not in conflict with the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law is to be cooperative and to accommodate the needs of the provinces  And if the province with the strongest and fastest growing strongest economy requires more skilled workers, “absent compelling reasons, the federal government should accommodate that,” he said. 

Alberta Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Muhammad Yaseen said immigration is the key to grow the provincial economy and address labour shortages. He said Ottawa’s limit will be a “very difficult pill to swallow.”

“Not only for businesses that need this skilled labour but also to the many Ukrainian evacuees who have the skills we need and wish to stay permanently in Alberta.”