Early next week, the Alberta government is expected to sign a special immigration deal with the federal government. As Canada’s fastest growing province, Alberta regards immigration as an important solution to its chronic labour shortages. With a job market growth rate outpacing all other provinces, Alberta currently has more jobs than they do people to fill them.

Though immigration is under federal jurisdiction, the new immigration deal would transfer much of the responsibility to the Alberta government. Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has made this deal a priority since campaigning for his position and taking office in December. He hopes to set up Alberta “desks” in Canadian embassies and consulates worldwide, to recruit immigrants to Alberta. The deal will give the province more control over selecting immigration candidates to fill jobs in the industries most pressed by the labour shortages. It will also reduce bureaucratic red tape so that immigrants can settle in Alberta more easily and more quickly.

At this time, Quebec is the only province that has its own immigration bureaus around the world. Manitoba, Ontario, and British Columbia also have special immigration deals with the federal government, each one differing according to the needs of the province.

In 2006, the Alberta economy expanded by 6.9 per cent and 86,000 jobs were added province-wide. The province has been struggling to attract and retain workers to keep the economy booming. With the new immigration deal, Alberta should have more success at attracting newcomers. The Premier is also working on improving settlement services so that these newcomers are more likely to stay.