Diversifying the Calgary economy is essential to limiting its vulnerability to the boom-and-bust cycle experienced by the energy industry.
To encourage economic development and the creation of more good, well-paying, and resilient jobs, a Better Budget includes the following policy asks:
- Fill employment shortages by hiring permanent, full-time staff.
- Hire 200 new full-time permanent transit operators.
- Adopt a Living Wage for all staff, including full-time, part-time, and contractors.
- Align procurement strategy with other city priorities, including anti-poverty objectives and climate change mitigation by keeping services entirely public and shifting focus from best price to highest social impact.
- Provide access to diverse employment, including hours of employment, by opening essential city services for longer hours and introducing peer workers for services that support marginalized residents.
- Increase support to small businesses in the form of grants to incentivize hiring individuals with barriers to employment.
- Retrofit public buildings to include air filtration in line with public health objectives.
More Full-Time Employment
One way that The City can encourage employment in other sectors is by ensuring that public sector employment is secure while maintaining efficient governance and making careful financial decisions.
Current hiring for city services has not kept pace with population growth. Between 2016 and 2021, the Calgary population grew by 5.5% and is now home to over 1.3 million people. When city services are underfunded, staff ratios are unable to keep up with the growing demand for services from the population, and larger workloads make The City a less desirable place to work. Therefore, The City of Calgary can support its objective to ensure that residents have access to good quality of life by creating full-time, permanent employment.
Part-time work is likely to be more precarious for workers and given the high cost of living is unlikely to be enough for individuals to meet their needs and the needs of their households. In addition, full-time permanent work gives workers access to essential benefits such as Employment Insurance, paid sick days, pension funds, and other essential and stabilizing services that may not be accessible otherwise.
Improving City Services
Filling employment shortages and increasing the number of positions to keep up with demand for services, extending hours of employment for city services, and bringing services that have been contracted out back in-house can help The City create employment and improve their delivery of city services. Shortages in transit operators will serve to improve the frequency of transit, returning the service to a pre-pandemic level.
Impacts for Equity and Climate Change
Many of the policies that would serve to create new public sector employment would have positive impacts related to both equity and climate change. For example, keeping libraries open for longer hours means increased access to heating and cooling infrastructure, internet and computer access, and programming for individuals who rely on the public library for critical support. With the infrastructure already in place, implementing changes that can have significant positive impacts on the lives of Calgarians often comes down to simply requiring more workers, and hiring individuals with more diverse skill sets including peer workers and support workers. In addition, policies like retrofitting public buildings with air filtration systems are a way to ensure that the employment created by The City is safe and accessible for all workers, recognizing the prevalence of airborne diseases like COVID-19 and workplace transmission.
Ensuring that everyone employed by The City is paid a living wage is critical to ensuring that The City is providing viable alternative employment to high-paying roles in carbon-intensive industries. To support the transition towards green employment, workers must have the possibility of earning decent wages in good work conditions, in low-carbon jobs.
These policy asks are based on input that came directly from over 5,000 Calgarians from every corner of the city through our Better Budget Survey and Community Consultations last spring. Vivic Research and Nick Falvo Consulting helped us compile your responses into a report that includes these and other recommendations.