Canada has worked hard to contain the spread of COVID-19. This is a credit to the leadership our public health officers across Canada have provided, and to the resilience and commitment shown by our front-line workers since the pandemic emerged. They all deserve our thanks and gratitude.
On top of health implications, the economic fallout of the pandemic has been devastating. An estimated three million jobs were lost by April and the unemployment rate is expected to reach almost 10 per cent by the end of this year. It has all resulted in an historic federal government deficit expected to reach $343 billion.
As we focus on recovery, the energy sector stands ideally positioned to support it.
No industry is better positioned than energy to play a foundational role in getting people back to work and helping pay for the services on which families rely. We know how important the sector is to our national prosperity.
Energy has put billions of dollars into vital social programs such as health care and education right across Canada. As we’ve worked, Canada has prospered, and we have accomplished all of this by growing strong partnerships with Indigenous communities and improving environmental performance.
The jobs and economic benefits created by the energy sector are massive. Between 2000 and 2018, the industry contributed $359 billion to federal and provincial budgets. These are dollars that go back into our health care, schools, environmental programs and other essential services.
Canada’s oil and gas sector supports more than 500,000 jobs across Canada in direct and related industries. For each person working directly in oil and gas, five more jobs are supported somewhere else in Canada. Whether you’re in Vancouver, Moose Jaw, Toronto, Montreal or Halifax, there’s a good chance the energy sector is impacting your livelihood.
You need look no further than the thousands of well-paying jobs being created on the three large-scale pipeline projects under construction. The Trans Mountain expansion, Keystone XL and Coastal GasLink pipelines will provide much-needed access to international markets for our valuable resources – which benefits all Canadians. In addition, these projects are putting people to work and giving a much-needed boost to local businesses and communities.
Canada works to high environmental, social and governance standards. Some jurisdictions with lower standards are succeeding in the global energy market while some people in Canada continue to debate the value of the sector at home. This debate, often not grounded in facts, is hurting our prosperity. Canadians deserve better.
Canadian energy is good for Canada and good for the world. We know world demand for our energy is increasing and with our world-leading commitment to human rights, labour rights and the environment, Canada can, and should be, the supplier of choice to meet this demand.
We know climate change is real. That’s why our energy sector is playing a leading role in investment in renewable energy and clean technology innovation. There’s always more to be done but we will do it together.
Canadians from coast to coast to coast should be proud of their energy sector and its contribution to Canada and the world.
The facts have always been on our side – when we work, Canada works.
Tom Olsen is chief executive officer of the Canadian Energy Centre, an Alberta government corporation funded in part by taxes paid by industry on carbon emissions.