Today I learned that you can buy three detached houses in Edmonton for roughly the same price as one house in Toronto. I also learned that Calgary has more sunny days than any other major city in Canada, and that Alberta has the highest median income (after taxes) of any province.
It looks like Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s recruitment efforts are working — enough to capture the attention of this millennial Toronto resident, at least.
But will the western province’s $2.6 million “Alberta is Calling” website, billboards, TV ads, radio spots and other campaign materials actually work to poach skilled workers from Ontario?
I guess we’ll see. It’s really freaking cold out there.
Alberta is calling! We have:
— Nicholas A. C. Milliken (@NACMilliken) August 29, 2022
Like several other cities, towns and regions across Canada in recent years, Alberta has launched a formal campaign dedicated to luring talented people from bigger markets — chiefly Toronto and Vancouver.
“Alberta’s had the highest employment growth in Canada in 2022 with 68,000 more people working,” noted Kenney when announcing the campaign earlier this month.
“One of the biggest challenges to sustaining that amazing growth is having enough people to fill all of the jobs that are being created.”
The campaign is centred around three main facets of life: Affordability, lifestyle and career. Nobody can argue against Alberta’s claims of being affordable, especially when contrasted against urban centres in B.C. and Ontario.
“Enjoy Canada’s highest average wages and lowest taxes. Plus, own a house in one of our two major cities for as little as $450,000,” reads the website, which lists the average Calgarian’s disposable income as $41,252.
“Calgary’s high average household disposable income (per capita) means you’ll have enough money to live comfortably. In Toronto, most of your income goes towards home ownership – taking 69% of your salary to own a home,” the site continues.
“In Edmonton, home ownership, on average, takes well under a third of your annual income.”
With housing costs taking away just 27 per cent of the average Edmonton home owner’s income, that falls well within the CMHC’s official threshold for an affordable market.
Alberta is calling. Will you answer? pic.twitter.com/DmtogKz7Fh
— Jason Kenney 🇺🇦 (@jkenney) August 15, 2022
“I’m standing in front of something that a lot of folks in Toronto and Vancouver don’t get to see very often — the yard of a single family home,” says Kenney in a recent social media spot.
“That’s because the price of a detached home in Canada’s two biggest cities has simply become out of reach for many families.”
He’s not wrong about that, or the fact that Alberta has many high-paying roles available for skilled workers — but some online are taking up issue with the campaign’s promise of an “exciting cultural scene” and “endless career opportunities.”
“You overworked nurses, ripped up doctor contracts, and allowed more people to DIE during the pandemic than ANY other jurisdiction in North America per capita,” wrote one person in response to Kenney’s video.
“Schools don’t have enough teachers and you have mercilessly cut universities. Now you beg people to move here.”
An artist, a nurse, and a teacher walk out of the province.
No punchline sorry. Thats the tweet.
— Anomaly (@Digital_Ando) August 26, 2022
In fact, as ads for the campaign run on Toronto and Vancouver radio stations, bus shelters and public transit vehicle, more and more people are logging on just to say that they hate Alberta.
“Alberta is calling, just let it go to voicemail,” joked one Twitter user this week.
“Kenney’s ‘friendly’ Alberta is calling,” wrote another. “The rest of Canada may need a restraining order to make it stop.”
ALBERTA IS CALLING (I will be making this joke until they stop with this ridiculous campaign.) https://t.co/iJW3tjLrC8
— Karla Margarita (@criavolver) August 31, 2022
And those are among the nicer comments; most are straight vitriolic, taking aim at the province’s environmental policies…
You’re really going to love it here… if you think destroying the environment for money is cool. pic.twitter.com/zNNwtTgj1k
— Artemis Media (@artemismediaca) August 15, 2022
Alberta is calling… And telling you overtime is *mandatory* https://t.co/CrCMZ3rwrJ
— Cordelia K 🇵🇸 (@Cordelia_K_) August 27, 2022
alberta is calling ☎️and we are wondering if you think grandma would be okay at the super 8 for a bit cause we’re having a rough time finding her an ltc bed eh
— Garett Spelliscy (@GarettSpelliscy) August 30, 2022
I’ve lived here for *exactly* 2 months and your government has come after my employer, my home, and my health care system. To name a few. So much to celebrate. Alberta is calling. #AlbertaIsCalling #ableg #abpoli #AthabascaU https://t.co/fjQG1jAnHV
— Dr. Lisa Watson (she/her) (@lwatson_ca) August 27, 2022
And, um, the province’s less-than-stellar reputations for diversity and tolerance (among other things.)
Alberta is the land of racists, homophobes, rednecks….and I’m just talking about #UCP. The good people of Alberta are fully sick of your lies, your cheating, your gaslighting.
— Joanna2022 (@Joanna20222) August 26, 2022
“Alberta is calling”….yes, it is. To all the hillbillies and racists in the rest of the country. Come hang out with your brothers and sisters in the master race. Bonus, get your pick up adorned with nazi and confederate flags and numerous fascist bumper stickers. 🤨😱🤮
— sarrahh01 🇨🇦🌻 (@sarrahh011) August 27, 2022
The fact that nearly everyone quoted above is from Alberta does raise a few red flags… though Twitter users are known to be particularly vocal when they’re mad about something.
Is a cheap house and some big parks and a high-paying job worth living in a province that regularly makes headlines for its hostility?
For some people, probably.