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Last updateThu, 17 Jun 2021 8am

Alberta unveils ambitious job plan

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The Alberta Government has unveiled what is being described as the largest job plan in Alberta history.
Minister of Labour and Immigration Jason Copping hosted a round table with Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) editors to discuss the Alberta Jobs Now Program.
“We recognize the impact of the pandemic on working Albertans is going to last a lot longer,” said Minister Copping. “We have got through the last year, one of the worst global economic recessions, statically a depression, and one of the biggest crashes in energy prices.”
The Alberta Jobs Now program will provide up to $370 million to help private and non-profit businesses support much-needed jobs for unemployed and underemployed Albertans across the province.
Employers can apply for a grant that covers 25 percent of an employee’s salary for a 52-week period up to a maximum of $25,000 per employee. The grant can be used to cover salary or training costs.
“Right now, we are sitting at approximately 9 per cent unemployment, two points higher than when we came into the pandemic. We are only second behind Newfoundland, tied with Ontario in terms of our unemployment rate,” said Copping. “We were the first government to launch an economic plan, the Alberta Recovery Plan, which had three key elements.
These elements include investment in infrastructure, and they invested $20 billion from future years to invest in projects to get people working. The government also focused on creating an environment for investment, this included the job development tax cut. The third element is diversification.
The next element is the Alberta Jobs Now Program.
“This program will help an estimated 22,000 Albertans get back to work,” he said. Not only is it designed to get Albertans back to work, but get them back to full-time permanent positions.”
The program is eligible to small, medium, and large employers, in the private and non-profit sectors. There is no requirement for profit loss or revenue loss.
“This program is focused on Alberta employers who want to create jobs and are willing to make a commitment to that job for at least 52 weeks,” he said.
Employers will be able to apply for a grant that covers 25 per cent of an employee’s salary for a 52-week period up to a maximum of $25,000 per employee. The grant can be used to cover salary or training costs. Employers who hire persons with disabilities will receive a grant 1.5 times higher than the amount they receive for other new employees.
Employers will be able to apply at as of 9 a.m. on May 20. They can apply for funding for up to 20 new employees. Employers have until August 31 to apply. A second intake will open on September 15 and close on December 31.

Unused scholarship funds transferred to Wheatland Crossing School

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Unused scholarship funds from the Reg Thurston Memorial Scholarship, and a decision on how these funds will be handled, was up for discussion by Wheatland County council members during the regular Tuesday, April 20 council meeting.
A total of $8,270.91 has been held in trust by the county since the scholarship was established in 2003; however, these funds have remained unused since 2007.
“Auditors have asked to look into two unused scholarship funds,” said general manager of Corporate and Financial Services Tracy Buteau during the meeting. “The school division (Golden Hills School Division) has recommended contacting the principal at Wheatland Crossing school to award scholarships and awards.”
Reg Thurston spent more than two decades serving both Wheatland County and school board--in the position of Reeve and Deputy Reeve of the county, and Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the school board. The memorial scholarship was established in 2003 to honour his commitment and dedication to education and his municipality.
The student with the highest blended mark for English 30, Social Studies 30, Mathematics 30, and a science-either Chemistry 30, Physics 30, or Biology 30-was to be awarded with a $100 scholarship and plaque every June following diploma examinations.
Due to a miscommunication between the school district and Wheatland County, the scholarship has not been awarded since 2007.
“This is a great way to honour Mr. Thurston’s legacy of service,” Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link said during final discussions.
Council unanimously voted in favour to transfer the unused scholarship funds to Wheatland Crossing and to increase the scholarship amount to $500.

Morrin Society looks at establishing campground

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The Morrin Historical Park and Sod House Society are proposing to establish a campground within the Village.
The society sent a proposal to Starland County to establish a campground on the County’s railway right of way property. This would consist of 10 to 12 sites directly south of the former ATCO Office site.
“If the campground is established, the Society then will assist in operating and maintaining it and would request the County provide them with a portion of the revenues earned in return,” it noted in its proposal to Starland County.
The proposal is for the Society to design and help prepare the camping sites, donate the clay base material for each drive-thru site, donate mature trees to be re-established at this site, be responsible for the operation of this campsite.
The County would be responsible for applying for a development permit from the Village of Morrin, stripping the grass from each of the proposed sites, supplying the gravel, firepits, and picnic tables for each of the sites, a garbage bin, and signage.
Starland County CAO Shirley Bremer said Starland Council agreed to lend them the area if the Village of Morrin allowed the development.
“The County submitted a Development Permit on behalf of this group (as we are the landowners) and it is presently waiting for approval or refusal from the Village. It is the Village’s responsibility to approve or refuse it and to advertise it with their residents.
She explains the committee is looking at developing a regular income stream. They are in the process of setting up a new museum in the Old United Church as well as keeping up the sod house. The new museum could provide them a facility that can keep the artefacts safe from the elements. They need the revenue to pay for utilities as well as set up the museum and do maintenance.
“There is also a second component of supporting the Village. The Sod House and Church Museum may draw visitors into Morrin, they could camp overnight, maybe they will spend some money at the store or hotel, and this could help the town.”
“I don’t know if they will be successful or not, but I do admire their drive and determination to develop something to improve the Village and make some money on it, as well for their group. This group of volunteers has shown us ‘how to get things done’ in the past, as they have built two sod houses now as well as a clay oven and preserved many artefacts at the Sod House Park,” said Bremer.
“I applaud this volunteer group for their efforts to not only preserve some of the Morrin area’s rich heritage but to also try to beautify the Village and hopefully bring more visitors to the town.”


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