Canada's New Government and the Government of Alberta sign agreement with Peace Country Health to increase aboriginal employment and economic opportunities

    GRANDE PRAIRIE, AB, Sept. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's New Government, the
Government of Alberta and Peace Country Health Region (PCH) today signed a
partnership agreement to promote career and employment opportunities for
Aboriginal people in the area of health care.
    "Today Canada's New Government is signing yet another Aboriginal
Workforce Participation Initiative agreement that will result in Aboriginal
people developing key skills and finding lasting employment," said Rob
Merrifield, Member of Parliament for Yellowhead, on behalf of the Honourable
Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal
Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. "There is now a growing list of
forward thinking employers committed to recruiting Aboriginal people as
employees, and we are proud to be working with Peace Country Health and the
Alberta Government in this partnership."
    Canada's New Government has partnered with some of this country's leading
companies, public agencies, industry, professional and labour groups to help
in the recruitment, retention and promotion of Aboriginal employees.
    "Critical skill and labour shortages exist in many health-care
occupations throughout Alberta and Aboriginal people can help fill those
positions," said the Honourable Guy Boutilier, Minister of Alberta
International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations. "Partnerships such
as this also ensure that Aboriginal Albertans have every opportunity to engage
in the labour force and to be full participants and contributors to Alberta's
thriving economy."
    "PCH is working with our residents to create a sustainable workforce that
is reflective of the needs of our population," said Marvin Moore, Chair of the
PCH Board of Governors. "This event provides us with another way to formally
reaffirm our commitment to our residents and work in partnership with them to
identify potential employment and career opportunities."

    PCH, Alberta's largest employer north of Edmonton, has approximately
4,500 staff and provides service to over 200,000 residents in the region
(including northeastern British Columbia), approximately 13.5 per cent of whom
are Aboriginal and most are under the age of 19. With PCH currently
experiencing labour shortages in various occupations (notably doctors, nurses,
and other specialized medical occupations), the Aboriginal population in the
area gives the organization access to a large pool of workers to recruit from.

    "This provides PCH a great opportunity to influence their career
decisions and encourage them to choose a career in health care," said Moore.
    The agreement is part of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's Aboriginal
Workforce Participation Initiative (AWPI), a program that promotes the
participation of all Aboriginal peoples - First Nations, Métis and Inuit - in
the labour market.



    The Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative (AWPI) is a partnership
initiative of the Government of Canada, committed to increasing the
participation of Aboriginal peoples in the labour market. Initially launched
in 1991, its mandate was renewed and enhanced in 1996.
    Its goal is to educate and inform employers about the advantages of hiring
Aboriginal peoples. The initiative strives to raise awareness of Aboriginal
employment issues; increase the capacity of employers to recruit, promote and
retain Aboriginal employees; and promote information-sharing and networking
among stakeholders.
    AWPI recognizes that Aboriginal employment is a complex issue, requiring a
flexible approach. It supports a wide variety of activities to assist those
committed to Aboriginal employment. These activities can be easily tailored to
meet specific needs.
    Today's agreement is with the Government of Alberta and Peace Country
Health (PCH). It commits the parties to developing a partnership for
Aboriginal employment which recognizes fairness and inclusiveness, consistency
of approach, mutual respect and dignity, open communication, and trust. The
parties will work with the Aboriginal community and employees to facilitate
constructive cross cultural relationships that foster a supportive work
environment and create linkages to the labour force.


    International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations works with
Aboriginal Albertans on issues relating to social and economic advancement,
employment and training programs and land and resource management issues.


    Peace Country Health is the largest employer north of Edmonton, with
approximately 4,500 staff serving over 200,000 residents within the region and
northeastern British Columbia. Almost 13.5 per cent of the population within
the region are Aboriginal and most are under the age of 19.
    The Peace Country Health region includes three Métis Settlements: Peavine,
Gift Lake, and East Prairie along with 10 First Nations: Woodland Cree,
Driftpile, Swan River, Horse Lake, Sturgeon Lake, Duncan's, Sucker Creek,
Kapawe'no, Whitefish Lake, and Lubicon. The region also contains the Métis
Nation of Alberta Zone VI and is home to a number of First Nation and Métis

    AWPI Partnership Agreements signed across Canada

        - June 2007: Canada Safeway Ltd.
        - April 2007: Calgary Health
        - March 2007: City of Edmonton and Capital Health
        - May 2005: Grande Prairie Regional College and
          Aquatera Utilities Inc.
        - March 2005: City of Grande Prairie

        - January 2007: Siemens Canada Ltd..

    Nova Scotia
        - November 2006: The Nova Scotia Nurses' Union and the Trucking Human
          Resource Sector Council to improve opportunities for Aboriginal
          people in these two sectors.
        - November 2003: Michelin and the Province of Nova Scotia.

        - 2004: Brandon (Manitoba) Regional Health Authority.

For further information:

For further information: INAC Media Relations, (819) 953-1160; Heather
Poitras, Communications, INAC Alberta, (780) 495-6728; K. Patricia
Colosimo-Andreeff, Communications, Peace Country Health, (780) 538-6146;
Dorothy Schreiber, Communications, International, Intergovernmental and
Aboriginal Relations, Government of Alberta, (780) 415-0875; This release is
also available on the Internet at

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