Billboards are popping up in cities across the country, aiming to fill the nearly 3,000 vacant jobs in New Brunswick.
The “We’re Hiring” ads, sponsored by the New Brunswick government, are getting attention as far west as Calgary and provincial officials hope they’ll attract workers to the province.
“This is a very aggressive, positive approach that we think is going to have dividends for the province of New Brunswick,” said Labour Minister Donald Arsenault.
The $360,000 campaign has put the loud job postings on billboards in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick.
The government is hoping that by attracting workers from other provinces, it’ll also encourage displaced East Coasters to come home to work.
“There’s certain sectors that are struggling to find workers, and as a government we feel it’s very important to try to bring back New Brunswickers home,” Arsenault said.
While Opposition Finance Critic Bruce Fitch supports the promotion of the province, he thinks it could ruffle some feathers among frustrated New Brunswickers who left the province and found work elsewhere.
“I know there’s a lot of New Brunswickers that say ‘I’ve tried but I can’t get jobs here in New Brunswick’ and they’ve actually gone to Saskatchewan and Alberta to find a job. So to see that billboard up there, I think it would be pretty upsetting to them,” Fitch said.
The government says the billboards are just one part of their approach to improve employment numbers in the province. They’re also offering free tuition to low-income students and free second language training to people who are unemployed.
The unemployment rate in New Brunswick rose to 9.4 per cent last month from 8.7 per cent in November. By comparison, Canada’s unemployment rate rose only 0.1 per cent to 6.9.
Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO Krista Ross says the province’s proactive approach is important to strengthening the workforce.
“If we can fill the jobs from people that are here that’s great, if we can’t then we do need to reach elsewhere,” Ross said.
It’s expected the billboards will remain up in major Canadian cities until February.