Premier Jason Kenney announced on Monday that health restrictions will be further loosened as part of Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan. (Photo by Government of Alberta)

Premier Jason Kenney announced on Monday that health restrictions will be further loosened as part of Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan. (Photo by Government of Alberta)

2021 will be “turnaround year” for Alberta, predicts premier

Higher oil prices and forecast job and economic growth to fuel comeback

Alberta is leading the nation in population growth and job creation and is poised for a “turnaround year,” said Premier Jason Kenney on Wednesday.

The growth in population is “amazing” considering how hard the provincial economy has been hit, Kenney told members of rural municipalities attending a virtual spring conference for Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA).

“That tells me that people across Canada continue to see this province as a place of hope and opportunity.”

Economic analysts are also bullish on Alberta, with the Bank of Montreal, the Conference Board of Canada and National Bank of Canada predicting strong economic growth in 2021. On average, the provincial economy and employment were expected to grow by 6.4 per cent.


Summer events possible if enough people vaccinated

K-shaped recovery expected: ATB

Agriculture, one of the province’s economic pillars, is coming off a strong year with grain and oilseed yields the third highest in history, he said. Commodity prices are high and expected to remain positive for the next couple of years, which is spurring exports, which are among the highest levels recorded.

As well, forestry is coming off its best year in history and more B.C. forestry companies are shifting operations to Alberta, attracted by an advantageous regulatory environment and the province’s better handling of the pine beetle threat.

The energy industry, which was hammered in 2020 by historically low oil prices, is also heading in the right direction. The benchmark West Texas Intermediate price is US$65 a barrel. The price differential — the discount at which Alberta crude oil is sold — for Alberta’s Western Canada Select is the lowest in years at $10.50, he said.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is predicting capital spending in the province will increase to just over $27 billion, a $3 billion increase over last year.

Kenney said he has spoke with Montana’s governor and will talk to influential U.S. Senator Joe Manching later this week to try to revive the Keystone XL Pipeline project stopped by President Joe Biden.

He has not given up on getting the project, which would create a 1,900-km pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska, back on track, he said.

“We will certainly defend our interests, in court if necessary.”

Given the improving fortunes, it is time for energy companies that have not paid their property taxes to municipalities to settle their debts.

The RMA has been lobbying strongly for government help in getting oil and gas companies to pay their taxes. Municipalities are owed $245 million at last count, a number that has increased sharply each of the past three years.

“As these prices come back we have to insist that these companies honour their tax liabilities so that you can provide the services that you need to,” Kenny told municipal representatives.

“This is certainly a priority for us and we look forward to working with the RMA on that.”

On Tuesday, Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood said energy companies should not be able to get new well licences until they have paid any taxes owed municipalities.

Kenney cautioned that Alberta’s recovery will take time.

“We’re not out of this yet. There are some challenging months ahead of us.

“We’ll still have to deal with the fiscal hangover, if you will, of all of the challenges of the recent past.”

News tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watches a speaker appear by videoconference during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, April 9, 2021. Grassroots Liberals have overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling on the federal government to develop and implement a universal basic income — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the idea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau winds up Liberal convention with election campaign-style speech

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau wound up a three-day Liberal convention Saturday with… Continue reading

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher makes a shot against Italy at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 6, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Men’s world curling championship in Calgary in COVID limbo

CALGARY — The men’s world curling championship in Calgary remained suspended Saturday… Continue reading

Pipes intended for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline are shown in Gascoyne, N.D. on Wednesday April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Non-profit Quebec law centre to aid environmental group targeted by Alberta oil firm

QUEBEC — The Quebec Environmental Law Centre is coming to the aid… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives cite empathy, relationships as ways to help expand their movement

OTTAWA — Conservatives should show empathy with Black residents who say they’ve… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. New Democrats are reconvening for the second day of a three-day policy convention as they look to push past the glitches of the virtual event's opening sessions and rally around keynote speaker John Horgan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
New Democrats reconvene as hiccups, frustrations plague national policy convention

OTTAWA — New Democrats reconvened Saturday for the second day of a… Continue reading

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a joint statement with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his commitment to the Republican Party — and raise the possibility that someone else will be the GOP's next presidential nominee — in a closed-door speech to donors Saturday night, April 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Trump in 2024? He says only that ‘a Republican’ will win

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his… Continue reading

A cruise ship sits docked waiting for passengers to be evacuated in Kingstown, on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Friday, April 9, 2021 due to the eruption of La Soufriere volcano. (AP Photo/Orvil Samuel)
Ash-covered St. Vincent braces for more volcanic eruptions

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — People who ignored an initial warning to evacuate… Continue reading

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Most Read