Alberta is on the verge of another boom — will it be more sustainable this time around?
Province with deepest economic contraction of 2020 on pace to post biggest expansion of 2021 and carry gains into next year
CALGARY — This fall, after the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Royal Bank of Canada surveyed the damage to the Canadian economy and downgraded its economic growth outlook for every province in the country but one: Alberta.
“Alberta was the lone exception. We kept our growth forecast in Alberta at 5.9 per cent,” RBC’s senior economist Robert Hogue said in an interview, adding he expects Alberta to be home to the fastest growing provincial economy this year, topping the national GDP estimate of 5.1 per cent. In 2022, RBC Economics projects 4.9 per cent real GDP growth in the province (4.3 per cent for Canada), and is on track to fully recover by that time.
Canada’s biggest oil and gas producing province is enjoying an economic resurgence after years of contractions and interrupted recoveries since the oil price crash of 2014. Economists say the province’s oil and gas industry, buoyed by higher crude oil and natural gas commodity prices, is leading the growth, but the current rebound is not limited to higher oil and gas activity as other sectors including residential real-estate investment, manufacturing and services are also rebounding.
Alberta’s nascent tech sector is also growing, offering some hope of long-desired economic diversification. Amazon Web Services announced Monday it would spend $4.3 billion on a cloud computing hub in Calgary, bringing in up to 950 new jobs.
The province also posted a record year for venture capital investment in 2020, when 51 deals were struck for $445 million in total investment — a 100 per cent hike in investment over the year before.
Alberta is digging itself out of a pretty big holeAimee McArthur-Gupta
“There are so many reasons to be optimistic about Alberta’s tech sector,” Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, said in a release Monday, adding the province is tracking toward “a record year in venture capital and tech investment, creating thousands of jobs and diversifying our economy.”