Speaking Notes for an Address by the Honourable Monte Solberg at the signing of a Partnership Agreement between the Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative and Safeway Canada Limited
Speaking Notes for an Address by the Honourable Monte Solberg, PC, MP Minister of Human Resources and Social Development
at the signing of a Partnership Agreement between the Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative and Safeway Canada Limited
June 28, 2007
Thank you for that kind introduction – David (David Ryzebol, VP Public Affairs and Gov. Relations, Canada Safeway.)
I would like to welcome Chuck Mulvenna, President and Chief Operating Officer of Safeway, as well as Harry Chase – MLA Varsity and Andre Chabot, Alderman, Ward 10 Calgary.I am honoured to be here today, on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, to sign this agreement with Safeway Canada Limited. It is the latest of several Aboriginal Workforce Participation Agreements that we have concluded recently – important and forward-looking agreements that help in the recruitment, retention and promotion of Aboriginal employees.
The goal of this program is not simply to create jobs, but also to remove the obstacles that separate employers from employees. With the elimination of barriers that impede Aboriginal employment we are building opportunities for skills development and training, opportunities for meaningful jobs, and most of all, hope for the future.
Canada’s New Government is proud to partner with some of this country’s leading companies, public agencies, industry, professional and labour groups to work towards this goal.
Today, we are here to celebrate a specific project, but I think it is also important to take a step back and recognize why my government is working so hard to help more Canadians get into the workforce. It’s about the economy, but it is also about helping people develop the skills they need to succeed.
We know that for the future success of our country, we need to ensure it has a workforce full of the skills and knowledge necessary to compete on the world stage. To that end, Canada’s New Government has introduced an economic plan called “Advantage Canada.” For me and my portfolio, the important pillar under that plan is to give Canada a knowledge advantage.
We face significant challenges such as worker shortages especially here in Alberta, an aging workforce, and we also have a number of groups that face barriers getting into the labour force, as you know, this includes aboriginal Canadians as well as new immigrants, seniors and persons with disabilities.
We’re responding to this by helping those that face barriers get into the workforce, and training them properly so they can make a real contribution.
Also, in budget 2007, our government announced new and long term funding of $500 million per year, starting in 2008, for a labour market training program that will help people that have been out of the workforce for a long-time, get access to the skills and training they need to be able to find a quality job.
As for today’s announcement: the best way to remove economic obstacles is to recruit partners — and few partners have more to offer than Safeway.
Today, Safeway is joining a growing list of forward thinking employers who have committed to work with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and Aboriginal people to improve employment and business development opportunities for Aboriginal people and communities with AWPI partnership agreements. This includes employers such as Michelin and Siemens and, right here in Alberta, the cities of Edmonton and Grande Prairie, Edmonton Capital Health, Grande Prairie Regional College and the Calgary Health Region.
Under the terms of the agreement we are signing today, Canada’s New Government and Safeway Canada Limited will develop a partnership for Aboriginal employment which recognizes personal worth and unique contributions, respects diverse traditions and perspectives, and provides for fair treatment, mutual respect and dignity in the work place.
I am particularly excited about today’s signing with such a well established company – a company that shares and promotes best practices within its structure in order to accomplish great opportunities for both the company and its employees.
I am confident this agreement will attract dynamic and enthusiastic new employees to Safeway and that the success of this agreement will encourage other organizations to develop partnerships of this nature.
Safeway has an extraordinary record of creating job opportunities and promoting workplace diversity and I commend them for their efforts to pursue wide-scale employment of Aboriginal people in Canada.
On behalf of Canada’s New Government, I want to thank Safeway for being part of the Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative and for its commitment to Aboriginal people. I encourage all Canadian businesses to consider the benefits of partnering with Aboriginal groups.