Addicted to energy

The provincial government must act now on diversifying the economy before the bottom falls out on oil and gas, the head of a nonpartisan research group said in Red Deer on Monday.

Ricardo Acuna

The provincial government must act now on diversifying the economy before the bottom falls out on oil and gas, the head of a nonpartisan research group said in Red Deer on Monday.

Ricardo Acuña, executive director for the University of Alberta-affiliated Parkland Institute, criticizes the long reigning Progressive Conservatives for continuing to rely heavily on the energy sector to drive the economy.

“We face a situation 10 years down the road where no one will want what we are selling,” said Acuña, prior to speaking at the Red Deer chapter’s Council of Canadians annual general meeting.

“We’ll be scrambling to find something to replace it. We could be more visionary, so when we’re selling less of it or none of it, our economy is sustainable.”

Currently, about 28 per cent of Alberta’s economy comes directly from the energy sector, Acuña said.

Seven per cent of Alberta’s workers work in oil and gas, with another seven per cent in construction directly related to the energy industry.

According to the government’s own statistics, the best places to invest money for job creation are in non oil-and-gas related sectors, Acuña said.

“We have tremendous expertise and knowledge in the energy sector, so why not transfer that into sustainable energies,” Acuña added. “It would be silly for us to start investing money in manufacturing vehicles because it’s something we don’t have the expertise in.”

Alberta could be an international leader when it comes to wind and solar power.

During boom times, the government could have used its plentiful coffers to invest in green energy or more sustainable fuels. But it hasn’t, Acuna said.

“In fact, in the mid of this latest boom, we have been more dependent on oil and gas than during the Lougheed years,” said Acuna. “We’re actually going the wrong way in terms of diversifying our economy.”

Acuna hailed Peter Lougheed, premier from 1971 until 1985, for starting the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund so it could create long-term financial benefits from Alberta’s rich non-renewable resources.

But Acuna said the province has failed to invest as much as it should have.

It’s currently around $14.5 billion whereas Norway’s petroleum fund, which started 10 years after Alberta’s, is valued around $300 billion.

“If the oil and gas sector stopped providing money tomorrow to the provincial government, we’d have this great huge fund that’s generating enough interest every year to replace the amount of money we were getting (from the energy industry),” Acuna said. “That’s the vision that Norway has had in terms of making sure their economy isn’t dependent on oil and gas.”

Just Posted

City of Red Deer gets ball rolling on annexing more land

”It’s important we look ahead,” says Mayor Veer

Walmart melding online and in-store shopping

South Red Deer Walmart recently underwent six months of renovations

Updated: Nature trail unveiled at RDC

Trail unveiling and tree planting honours Nova Chemicals $2 million donation

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the… Continue reading

McGill research finds significant driving impairment 5 hours after cannabis use

MONTREAL — Driving under the influence of cannabis remains dangerous even five… Continue reading

Family: Remembering the important things

It seems so much of life is work and routine and then… Continue reading

Canada gets into Women’s World Cup with 7-0 win over Panama

FRISCO, Texas — Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set… Continue reading

Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal… Continue reading

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex,… Continue reading

Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling… Continue reading

Doctors to debate medical pot as more patients expected to ask for prescriptions

VANCOUVER — Doctors with opposing views on whether medical marijuana should be… Continue reading

Most Read