The federal government is planning to spend $1.4 billion to create jobs in rural Alberta, including up to 2,500 new positions in rural communities.
But the plan is unlikely to create many new jobs for rural residents, say many economists.
In a report released Wednesday, the Alberta Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it would only have about 300 new jobs in the province in 2018-19 if the federal government’s plan is implemented.
“If you have to add 2,000 new jobs to the population and you are also spending $1 billion to invest in the rural economy, it’s not going to be enough to make a dent in unemployment,” said Doug LeBlanc, president of the chamber’s rural and regional economic development committee.
The chamber says rural Alberta has the largest number of unemployed people in the country.
In 2016, there were over 16,000 people living in rural areas.
The province currently has about 8,600 unemployed people, including 3,600 in rural and remote areas.
“We know from other provinces and the United States that rural areas have a much higher unemployment rate than cities,” said LeBlanche.
The report said Alberta has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada.
“That’s the one area where we really need the federal funding to really accelerate our economic recovery,” said economist Jeff Cushman.
The Chamber of Business said the federal budget would help create more than 1,000 jobs for low- and moderate-income households, including training, and support programs for families.
The federal budget is expected to be announced Friday.