Braid: Escalating exodus of young people a major challenge for Alberta

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Edmonton has been slower to sink to the level of Calgary’s crisis but appears to be catching up fast.

The lure of the Calgary towers is over for young people, probably for a long while.

Highrise buildings stand in downtown Calgary. Photo by Lyle Aspinall/Postmedia

Western Diversification adds: “The major economic factors that drive this trend (the departure of young people) are beyond the influence of government, and there is a very real possibility that Alberta’s economy will never again resemble what it did prior to the crash in 2014.”

If our governments accept that pessimistic conclusion, we will slide into dependence. I don’t think that will happen. Alberta’s long history of boom and bust shows we always pull ourselves out somehow.

And yet, there’s no questioning the forces that are pulling young people out of the province.

Finally, Western Diversification says: “It is anticipated that the combined impacts of COVID-19 and the ongoing downturn in oil prices will accelerate this trend in cities across the province …”

There shouldn’t be any surprises here for Calgary Economic Development or provincial policymakers. The question is what can be done about it. The federal agency is hoping to come up with some answers.

It must be added, some young entrepreneurs in areas distant from oil and gas say they’re doing very well, building their versions of a new Alberta. Calgary remains a great place for young people to live and work.

But this problem is serious. We need more than fine words about youthful Alberta, when Alberta isn’t so youthful anymore.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Calgary Herald.

dbraid@postmedia.com

Twitter: @DonBraid

Facebook: Don Braid Politics

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