September 20, 2021

Silent Crisis: Trends & Challenges Facing Alberta’s Displaced Workers

Albertans are struggling more than other Canadians to find work. 

Alberta’s labour market is in turmoil. This past year, over 50,000 Albertans were unemployed for a year or more, and many of those people are unlikely to re-engage even as employers in Alberta face labour shortages. That’s why we created the Task Force on Long Term Unemployment and Workforce Transition to help Albertans and the economy, and to ensure Albertans have the skills needed to succeed in the future of work.

The first in a series of publications from the Task Force, this background paper explores the drivers behind Alberta’s long-term unemployment rate as well as the trends and challenges on the future of work.


For many years, Alberta’s economic story has been one of booms and busts, and for the most part, those who found themselves out of work could typically find another job relatively easy.

In 2014, that story changed. After the oil price crash, Alberta’s unemployment rate spiked, and the province has struggled to recover ever since. Now, sadly, Alberta has the highest rate of long-term unemployment in Canada.

Albertans are facing additional headwinds on the path to recovery—enduring COVID-19 impacts; the transition to a low-carbon economy which is transforming long-standing employment pathways in the province; the future of work, technology, and automation; and changing skills needed for the jobs of the future.

We need a plan to ensure that Albertans are supported through these transitions, are engaged in the workforce, and have the skills they need to thrive in the jobs of tomorrow.

About the Task Force on Long-Term Unemployment and Workforce Transition

The Task Force on Long-term Unemployment and Workforce Transition develops policy and public-private sector program recommendations to help address long-term unemployment and workforce transition in Alberta and to get unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers back into productive roles, or to help them transition to other entrepreneurial ventures.


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