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Natural resources key to economic recovery: report

Panel of industry experts says the resource sector could create 2.6 million new jobs.

The national Task Force for Real Jobs, Real Recovery released its blueprint for Canada’s economic recovery. The report, titled Securing Canada’s Economic Future: Natural resources for real jobs and real recovery, indicates the resource sector can generate up to 2.6 million new jobs across the country, while setting the foundation for a lower-carbon future.

Economic modelling conducted for the Task Force shows that with the right policies in place, natural resources and manufacturing could create up to 2.6 million new jobs and up to a 17 per cent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP). This could amount to an increase of nearly $200 billion in potential labour earnings. At the same time as the resource sector can be Canada’s engine of growth, the sector will continue to take meaningful climate action.

The report makes 19 recommendations for how to enable the resource sector to meaningfully advance the prosperity and vitality of Canadian society, communities and workers. Urgent action is required by federal policy makers in order to realize this vision and emerge from the current unprecedented economic upheaval, with the support of the mining, oil and natural gas, forestry, chemistry, manufacturing, construction and transportation sectors. 

Recommendations include:

  • Mobilize resource prosperity by leveraging Canada’s world-class industries, advancing regulatory efficiency, attracting capital investment, enhancing critical infrastructure, ensuring access to resource lands, and maximizing Indigenous economic participation. 
  • Build meaningful employment by ensuring job creation, building employment resiliency, advancing Indigenous employment, and enhancing skilled workforce mobility. 
  • Accelerate innovation and environmental competitiveness by aligning climate action and natural resource development, driving challenge-oriented innovation, and advancing emissions reduction technologies.

These recommendations will be presented to key federal government decision-makers, as well as to the Industry Strategy Council, a federal initiative launched in response to the economic effects of COVID-19.  

Key findings: the resource sector is essential to recovery

The Task Force report shows that in the first quarter of 2019, resource industries directly contributed $236 billion to Canadian GDP, representing 11.3 per cent of the Canadian economy. The sector’s workers are paid the highest average annual salary of any sector. As Canada emerges from the pandemic, this income will help to generate demand for goods and services needed to drive employment in other sectors including retail, real estate, entertainment, hospitality and tourism. An investment in a single oil and gas job creates up to six other jobs across the economy. 

Canada is also a global leader in developing resources with some of the world’s lowest greenhouse gas intensity levels. For example, as the global economy continues to demand resources and energy, there is a net benefit to the world to use Canadian products because of lower impacts on climate. Increasingly, the sector is sharing its experience for integrating resource development with sustainability and best-in-class environmental management with other countries in areas such as mining, chemistry, forestry and pipelines.

The resource sector is also key to economic reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Indigenous-owned businesses are 40 times more likely to be involved in the mining and oil and natural gas sectors than other average Canadian business sectors. The resource sector hires twice as many Indigenous employees and pays on average twice as much in wages as other sectors.

“The reality is that the resource sector is foundational to Indigenous peoples’ success,” said Task Force member Karen Ogen-Toews, Councillor, Wet’suwet’en First Nation and CEO, First Nations LNG Alliance. “The sector provides jobs for people in their communities, provides family-supporting wages and empowers our nations increasingly as co-managers. If we are going to come back from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need these opportunities.”

About the Task Force

The Task Force, which was convened in mid-July, comprises 20 expert advisors from across the country. The group is supported by a coalition of more than 25 industry associations, unions, professional organizations and Indigenous organizations representing the energy, manufacturing, transportation, forestry and construction sectors. Collectively, the Task Force represents more than a quarter million businesses and three million workers across Canada.

The Task Force was convened by Resource Works, a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization committed developing Canada’s resources in a manner that is inclusive of Indigenous peoples and maintains a clean and healthy environment.