Posted on Mar 14, 2018

Diversification means prosperity

By Danielle Larivee, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake

After a challenging couple of years, our economy is growing once again - here in Lesser Slave Lake, and across Alberta - and our government wants to keep it growing, and diversifying. That’s why we are focused on Alberta‘s energy future, and the good jobs that will come with it.

Alberta is blessed with a greater variety of raw resources than anywhere in the world. It’s something generations of Albertans have fought hard to protect. Many of us remember with pride when former premier Peter Lougheed stood up for our right to get full value from our resources. His vision led to innovations that spurred the development of the oilsands, that built our petrochemical industry, and that paved the way for an innovative energy economy.

We’ve come a long way in the last 30 years, but the dream of a fully diversified economy was never fully realized. We are still not getting full value for our resources. We are too exposed to the ups and downs of the resource revenue roller coaster. We all saw, and felt, this volatility when the world price of oil dropped dramatically a few years ago, costing Alberta thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.

When the price of oil fell, our government had a plan to protect workers and families. We didn’t make extreme cuts on the backs of families like so many Conservatives past and present have proposed. A government that’s on the side of families invests in a strong, resilient economy, works to create jobs, and protects the services families rely on. That was our plan, and that is what we did.

Our plan is working, and the hard choices we made are starting to pay off. We’ve gained over 90,000 jobs across the province in the past year. As our economy recovers, we are going to make sure that this recovery is different, that it is built for everyday people, and that it’s built to last.

We are taking action to create jobs, to diversify our energy economy, and to get more value for the resources each and every Albertan owns. That’s why we created Alberta‘s Energy Diversification Advisory Committee. The committee has done important work, consulting with Albertans and exploring opportunities to diversify our economy, increase the value we get for our resources around the world, and attract new investment right here in Alberta.

Our government recently announced we will be supporting the full-scale commercialization of partial upgrading technology in Alberta. Partial upgrading is an innovative process that reduces the thickness of oilsands bitumen so it can flow through pipelines more easily. This means we can make greater use of the safest, most efficient way to transport our bitumen, while increasing the value of our product.

It also means better value for our resources, billions of dollars in potential investments, and thousands of jobs for Albertans. This won’t happen overnight, but it will happen much faster with our government‘s support.

The same goes for the $6 billion of new petrochemical plants we are getting built.

There is a critical role for our government in fostering energy innovation and diversification. That’s why we’re stepping up, and working with industry, as partners, to ensure our energy future remains secure and prosperous for all Albertans.

First published March 14, 2018, in the South Peace News.