‘It is useless’: Calgary business owner on the Alberta Jobs Now program

A restaurant owner in Calgary: Rui Tang is the owner of Tenshi Sushi restaurant in Kensington in Calgary. (Photo by Sugege Du/The Press)

Looking for a job? Alberta’s newest job training program might help. Or, according to some business owners, not.

The Alberta government launched a $370-million program called Alberta Jobs Now in May to help thousands of Albertans get back to work.

Under the program, employers can apply for grants to cover part of the cost of hiring and training unemployed or underemployed Albertans in new or opening positions.

“Today, we launched the Alberta Jobs Now program, the largest job training program in Alberta’s history. It will give a strong incentive to employers,” said Premier Jason Kenney during a round table meeting on May 18th. “We need to help those unemployed Albertans to fill the gap to get the skills to match the available jobs.”

But some Albertan business owners think this program is not enough to decrease the province’s high unemployment rate, which is currently at 8.7 per cent, and help companies recover.

“This is useless. If you can keep your current employees during the pandemic, why would you need to hire a new one?” said Rui Tang, owner of Tenshi Sushi restaurant. “We need to have the employees back to have the normal working hours first.”

“Everyone has their bills to pay, so if everyone keeps working at the reduced hours, it is going to be hard for them,” he said.

Tang says that he did not lay off any employees during the pandemic. Instead, employees shared reduced working hours.

“The government should have to do something to help employed Albertans to have more working hours,” he said.

Treena Lo, a Calgarian who recently graduated from the New Media Production and Design program at SAIT, said she thinks this program could help some Albertans get jobs.

“This program would encourage companies to hire new employees if they’re still deciding,” Lo said.

“For example, many gym owners invested a big amount of money to set up the equipment, they cannot just simply close the gyms,” she said. “The lockdown will end soon. It is a good opportunity for those types of companies to think about re-opening and expanding their crews.”

“The lockdown will end soon. It is a good opportunity for those types of companies to think about re-opening and expanding their crews.”- Treena Lo

Lo said she believes the Alberta Jobs Now program will help her to get a job too.

According to Statistics Canada, in April 2021, Alberta’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.0 per cent, down from 9.1 per cent in March 2021 and down 4.4 per cent from a high of 13.4 per cent in April 2020.

The Government of Alberta suggests job seekers inform potential employers that they can apply for the Alberta Jobs Now program to cover part of the salaries and training costs to hire them.