EDMONTON – BUSINESS – Alberta is taking serious moves to control spending. Falling oil prices and an economy moving slower than usual have spurred the decision by the province to close down many of Alberta’s international offices.
The Alberta International Offices Review will bring office closures, more effective management and $3.1 million in savings over the course of two fiscal years.
The cost-saving measures include the closure of Alberta’s Ottawa, Chicago and Munich offices; suspending plans for the opening of the California and Brazil offices; and reducing expenses across Alberta’s international offices network.
Ron Hoffmann, Alberta’s Senior Representative for the Asia Pacific Basin, led a 10-week review in consultation with Alberta’s international offices, the Government of Alberta, the Government of Canada and Alberta’s private sector, education institutions and municipalities.
Jim Prentice, Premier states, “I would like to thank Ron for his thoughtful and diligent work on this review. These are responsible recommendations, and while difficult decisions had to be made, I am confident these changes will help us pursue Alberta’s global priorities in a way that provides the greatest return at the most reasonable cost.”
The Government of Alberta has accepted all 23 recommendations, which include shifting a higher proportion of Alberta’s international office investments to emerging markets like Asia, increasing the offices’ efficiency and service delivery as well as improving the support the international offices provide Alberta’s small and medium-sized enterprises. The savings represent 20 per cent of the total international and Ottawa offices’ $15-million budget.
Some efficiencies include re-allocating positions from the Beijing office and reducing the Hong Kong office’s operational budget to help cover the cost of the Guangzhou office. Other measures include aligning the Alberta Public Service International Service Guidelines, which set out rules for compensating employees in our international offices, with other jurisdictions across Canada.
Access to, and expansion of, new markets remains a priority for the Government of Alberta so it can continue to deliver the quality services on which Albertans depend. These changes will help Alberta’s international offices network focus its priorities and maximize its role as strong on-the-ground resources that advocate on behalf of Albertans, make trade connections, and attract investment from priority markets around the globe.