Alberta Innovates, a business-supporting agency that aims to stimulate tech startups, says it will be laying off up to 125 people following a major change to its operating budget that came about as a result of the provincial government’s spending plan announced last month.
The agency, which is funded by the Alberta government, said that its 2019-20 budget has been slated at $202 million, down from $278 million in 2018-19 and $298 million in 2016-17.
“Right now, we’re trying to focus on the people who have been impacted by these difficult decisions,” Alberta Innovates media relations manager Dwayne Brunner said in an email to Global News.
“Business continuity, processes and programs must continue as we transition through this time.”
Brunner said the organization has already begun non-union layoffs, and people in union positions will begin getting laid off in the first week of December.
Alberta Innovates’ website says the entity provides funding programs, advice, connections, technical expertise and applied research services “to stimulate and grow research and innovation across Alberta.”
“Innovation has never played a more significant role in the future for Alberta,” the website says. “Our ability to develop existing industries while introducing new opportunities for growth is critical for our future prosperity.”
Alberta Innovates’ 2018-19 annual report said that it had 670 employees based in Edmonton, Calgary, Devon, Vegreville and Victoria, B.C.
The agency also has a team of seven executives, all with salaries over $200,000, as well as a chief executive officer with a salary of $396,000. Brunner said that it was “business as usual” at the agency and wouldn’t specify if changes were in store for Alberta Innovates’ high-level employees or their salaries.
The Alberta government said that the funding changes were part of “difficult decisions to balance the budget.”
“Alberta Innovates, like every government department and agency, is in the process of restricting and finding efficiencies to deliver more effectively on behalf of Albertans,” Justin Brattinga, press secretary for Alberta’s Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Ministry, said in a statement.
“We believe in the good work that Alberta Innovates does on behalf of Albertans, and they will continue to contribute to our province’s research and innovation ecosystem,” Brattinga said.
Brunner said that the agency is currently working to align its strategies with the priorities of the current government.
“The realities of this budget will challenge us,” he said.
In its 2018-19 annual report, Alberta Innovates said it managed over 3,600 active projects in the province, and that for every dollar of funding, it saw an investment of $29.83.