The Alberta Government has announced a $40 million program to help people employed in the coal industry to transition to other careers.
The government is phasing out the use of coal for power over the next decade and communities like Hanna, which is down the road from the Sheerness Plant, will be hit hard.
Mayor Chris Warwick is happy to see the government adopt the recommendations of a coal transition advisory panel that toured the province and met with affected workers and community leaders.
"We certainly don't want our people to get retrained and then move away; that's the issue," responded Warwick. "What our task is right now, and has been for the last little while, is trying to get some job creation in the community or around the community; that's what our focus has been."
"We've been in pretty good contact with government regarding what we can do going forward to maybe attract some more business in town and one of the big, easy kind of things for us is the renewable side (of energy)," he elaborated. "Of course, renewables bring a few construction jobs, but they certainly don't bring any long term jobs."
The Alberta Government will provide income support, and has asked the federal government to provide tax relief, for workers transitioning from jobs in the coal or coal fired power industries to new jobs or retirement. The new initiatives are in addition to the recently announced Coal Community Transition Fund, which supports locally led projects that focus on regional partnerships and economic diversification in Alberta’s coal communities.
"Every community would love to have a 200-300 person operation come to their community and they're willing to give up a lot of things, including tax incentives and that type of thing," remarked Warwick. "That's kind of a direction we're looking at a little bit, some type of a funding model where we can entice business to come."