Alberta continues to be the economic engine of Canada, and Alberta’s government is focused on even more job creation and diversification. Last fall, Alberta’s government signed a memorandum of understanding with WestJet Airlines, recognizing the importance of Alberta’s aviation industry and its contributions to the economy.

Part of the framework of the MOU included a commitment to address critical skilled labour shortages currently faced by the aviation industry. Alberta is home to the second-largest Canadian airline, which operates almost 800 flights carrying 70,000 passengers daily. These numbers are expected to double over the coming years.

That’s why Alberta’s government is committed to growing and diversifying its aerospace, aviation and logistics sectors. This new investment of $11 million includes:

  • $6 million over three years to help Mount Royal University establish a bachelor of aviation management program
  • $4.5 million over three years for an air access bursary for students in high-demand aviation programs
  • $500,000 to support planning of an aviation centre of excellence

“These investments will help ensure Alberta’s air industry has the resources and workforce it needs to succeed, further supporting the growth and vitality of Alberta’s aviation industry, the diversifying of our economy and leading more students to successful careers.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

Supporting new seats in aviation education

Mount Royal University’s bachelor of aviation management program will add 120 seats over four years and be the first of its kind in Alberta. Unlike the aviation diploma, students seeking admission do not have to have a private pilot’s licence.

“We thank the Government of Alberta for this support of Mount Royal’s aviation program and the future pilots it educates. With the demand for pilots continuing to grow, this announcement speaks to the strength of the program, the vital role of education in advancing the aviation sector and its importance to the economy of Alberta.”
Tim Rahilly, president and vice-chancellor, Mount Royal University

The proposed program is a standard 120-credit degree. While there is only a generalized major, aviation management, the institution is offering the program with two different six-course concentrations.

One concentration in flight crew operations offers a commercial pilot and multi-engine instrument rating course to prepare students for a role as a pilot as well as other courses designed to prepare them for management opportunities as their flying career develops. The other concentration in aviation operations focuses on a greater development of management skills and specific aviation business content.

New bursary for aviation students

The new air access bursary provides $10,000 in non-repayable support for aviation students at Alberta post-secondary institutions. A total of $4.5 million will support up to 450 students over three years.

"Aviation is a growing field and the demand for pilots continues to soar. We thank the Government of Alberta for their financial support for students like me in the aviation program at Mount Royal University.”

Ethan Best, president, aviation student executive, Mount Royal University

Creating a hub for excellence

Alberta’s government is working across multiple ministries to support its air access expansion strategy as part of the memorandum of understanding with WestJet Airlines. Through this strategy, Alberta’s government is looking to boost the provincial economy by more than 1,000 direct jobs in Alberta and tens of thousands of other new jobs and billions in new economic activity. Pending approval, $500,000 will support planning for the centre of excellence for aviation training.

“The memorandum of understanding between the Government of Alberta and WestJet sets a foundation to support aviation-related post-secondary programs and improve skilled labour in the industry. This announcement strengthens these commitments and WestJet applauds the Government of Alberta for this funding that will further support WestJet’s Center of Excellence for advanced aviation training right here in Alberta.”

Jennifer Bue, interim chief financial officer, WestJet Group

Alberta is proving to be Canada’s next aviation hub and Alberta’s government continues to build and create new partnerships with the aviation industry and Alberta’s post-secondary institutions. Another key partnership in the province’s aviation industry exists between De Havilland and SAIT, focusing on aircraft manufacturing.

“This investment in critical skills and training comes at a time when our company is actively growing our Alberta footprint to advance our mission of manufacturing great Canadian aircraft that serve communities, transport passengers and save lives around the world. We look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Alberta to ensure we have the trained staff we need to deliver a new aerospace sector in the province.”

Brian Chafe, president and CEO, De Havilland Aircraft of Canada

Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s future by transforming the health-care system to meet people’s needs, supporting Albertans with the high cost of living, keeping our communities safe and driving the economy with more jobs, quality education and continued diversification.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s aviation, aerospace and logistics industries employ more than 75,000 people (2021, Statistics Canada).
  • This investment expands on the October 2022 announcement that invested more than $8 million over three years to expand several key facilities and added 40 seats per year to Mount Royal University’s aviation diploma program.
  • A 2018 report from the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace found that Canada’s aviation industry will need as many as 7,300 more pilots by 2025.