Premier Jason Kenney has appointed the Honourable Doug Schweitzer to the newly-created Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation on August 25 as part of the Premier’s Cabinet shuffle.
In his role as Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, Schweitzer will guide Alberta through the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on the agriculture, tourism, natural gas, and energy industries.
“We’re taking a look at the strong foundation of our economy here in Alberta as we come out of the pandemic,” Minister Schweitzer told the Mail. “Where are the areas we can grow quickly? Where are the areas we can get back to work?”
Minister Schweitzer recently visited Drumheller on a personal vacation with his family, enjoying the unique landscape and local tourist attractions with his daughters; having visited the area, he understands the local impact felt by these industries.
To ensure the future of the energy industry, Minister Schweitzer will be working closely with both Minister of Energy Sonya Savage, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity Dale Nally, and the newly created Invest Alberta Corporation.
Invest Alberta will draw international markets to the province and promote Alberta as the “most responsible place to develop natural resources.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for the province’s workforce, it has provided new opportunities as well.
“People are working from their kitchen tables, and businesses are able to operate that way,” Schweitzer said. This shift is allowing Albertans to live where they want while still being able to perform jobs which previously may have forced them to live in larger city centres such as Calgary or Edmonton.
Rural Albertans often struggle with reliable, high-speed internet and Minister Schweitzer plans to work with Minister of Service Alberta Nate Glubish to expand broadband services in these areas to provide “equality of opportunity” for current and future generations of Albertans.
Current international travel restrictions have impacted the tourism industry, with many Albertans travelling much closer to home rather than abroad, and Minister Schweitzer has plans to help relaunch the industry.
“More and more people are travelling locally; more and more people are buying RVs,” Minister Schweitzer said. “So how do we build on that and make sure people spend their tourism dollars here in the province?”
A tourism strategy, which will span a decade, is being developed with partnership from Travel Alberta to help grow the sector. Schweitzer said the current plan involves a “multi-pronged approach” which will include both short-term plans to help Alberta’s tourism industry through the pandemic. Longer term plans will bring back the international tourism market to the province once travel bans and restrictions are lifted.
Schweitzer will work closely with Drumheller-Stettler MLA Nate Horner.
“He’s a key member of our caucus and a true advocate for rural Alberta, and you’ll see a lot of the detailed work in our agricultural strategy he’s had a lot of feedback in,” Schweitzer said.