Highway interchange Mopac Expressway and Highway 183 Austin Texas USA transportation overpasses and road ways under summer sun.

Two major Canadian industries both focus on continuous improvement

Canada’s energy and road building industries have more in common than you might think.

Oil and natural gas production, road construction and maintenance. Some links between these two major industries are obvious: Canada produces some of the world’s highest-quality asphalt, plus a range of transportation fuels from gasoline and diesel to new developments in biofuels. But these two industries also share other characteristics: both are economic drivers, both strive to reduce environmental impacts, and both have a keen focus on infrastructure.

Vital economic drivers

Through its multi-billion-dollar national supply chain, the production of oil and natural gas is truly a national industry. This sector contributes $100 billion annually to Canada’s GDP and provides more than 500,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.

Outside of Alberta, Ontario is the largest supplier of goods and services to Canada’s oil sands industry – from technical and engineering service providers to fabricators and manufacturers. Data collected in 2020 shows the oil sands industry purchased $2.4 billion from more than 1,300 suppliers across Ontario, providing sustained employment for nearly 66,000 Ontarians. That means personal and corporate tax revenues stay in Ontario to support infrastructure construction and maintenance – in addition to funding health care, education, and many social services and programs Ontarians rely on.

Read more: How the oil sands benefit all of Canada

Similarly, Ontario’s roadbuilders are strategic in the economies of both Ontario and Canada, with major ground transportation links to the U.S., Canada’s largest trading partner. The industry directly and indirectly employs over 56,000 workers. Also, building and maintaining infrastructure is a critical part of Ontario’s long-term economic success.

Emissions reduction: a major industry focus

There’s another side to Canada’s energy industry: environmental performance. The industry has a broad portfolio of innovative solutions to deliver emissions reductions. These technological advances are making a demonstrable difference now and for the future. For instance: from 2011 to 2019 production of natural gas, condensate and natural gas liquids increased 32 per cent while emissions intensity (emissions per barrel of oil equivalent) decreased by 33 per cent.

Read more: How exports drive Canada’s economy

The industry is collaborative and solutions-oriented. The oil sands industry alone has invested $1.8 billion to support 1,143 shared technologies to improve environmental performance. According to Statistics Canada, in 2018 Canadian businesses spent a total of $8.9 billion on environmental protection. By far the largest contribution — $3 billion, or 34% of all spending – was by the oil and natural gas industry.

A graphic showing how much different industry spend on environmental protection

Infrastructure is vital

Ontario’s roadbuilders are in the business of constructing safe, reliable roadways. Canada’s oil and natural gas industry is equally focused on transporting petroleum products via road, rail and pipelines. Moving hydrocarbons to domestic and international markets is the lifeblood of Canada’s energy industry.

Read more: Energy IQ continues advancing energy education

In recent years, lack of pipeline capacity not only hampered the oil and natural gas industry, but also cost the Canadian economy some $14 billion in lost revenue. However, recent construction projects are helping ease constraints. The Trans Mountain Expansion Project, currently under construction, will increase capacity to 890,000 barrels per day (up from about 300,000) and open access to international markets such as China. The Coastal GasLink pipeline will connect natural gas production in northeastern B.C. to the LNG Canada liquefied natural gas facility on the West Coast, again opening access to Asia-Pacific markets for Canadian natural gas. Both of these important projects not only put Canadians to work but also provide long-term benefits for remote and Indigenous communities.

Canada’s energy is responsibly produced

The oil and natural gas industry has innovation, high standards for safety and environmental performance, and technological expertise to make Canada the world’s energy supplier of choice. Canada produces reliable, affordable and responsibly produced energy that can help ease global energy shortfalls. Support for the oil and natural gas sector means jobs and positive economic growth in Ontario.