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Chamber officials optimistic over potential for local economic, labour growth

Officials with the Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce were pleased to hear the latest provincial fiscal update from Finance Minister Travis Toews, just weeks after he painted a positive picture of the future of the provincial coffers.

Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce Board Member and Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Northwest Alberta Laura LaValley says it was nice to hear the insight from the head of the ministry, but with a fairly local spin. She says a lot of what was discussed lined up with the recent result of the Vital Signs survey, and that is of cautious optimism.

“I would say through our vital signs publication, we are certainly seeing stories of resiliency, and I think Grande Prairie and the region as a whole has a lot of opportunities,” she says.

“Further to that, there are a lot of people who are dedicated to rebuilding and making it a success as best we can… there are challenges ahead but I think we are up for it,” she adds.

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As part of the fiscal update released November 30th, says the provincial deficit for 2021-22 is now forecast at $5.8 billion, a total of $12.4 billion lower than the budget estimate and $1.9 billion lower than the first quarter fiscal update. LaValley says they’re hoping that momentum will translate into spending that will help expand recovery into growth.

“Hopefully some encouraging news and that gives us a bit of perspective as to where those finances might be able to back up some of the strategies that we need to build and move ahead,” she says. “Looking forward to figuring out what that looks like, and looking forward to growth and moving ahead for our region.”

According to numbers released by Statistics Canada earlier this month, the economic region containing Grande Prairie had an unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent in October 2021, which was a decrease from 10.9 per cent in October 2020.

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